Fish wars broke out in the English Channel when French trawlers faced their British counterparts – firing torches and throwing frying pans.
Two British boats – Scott Glover's Girl Macey and Brian Whittington's Golden Promise – were involved in the skirmish.
The ships, both from Brixham in Devon, were surrounded by around 20 French boats and objects such as frying pans and stones were thrown at them.
The French crews even threw oil on the Gal Macey before firing a torch at the ship. The violence sparked fears that if hostilities worsened, death could result.
The ministers introduced a "fivefold increase in our enforcement capacity" last year in preparation for a possible stalemate in the "cod war" with European trawler arms.
Fishing remains one of the most important sticking points in a Brexit agreement. Boris Johnson is unwilling to allow EU trawlers to continue their existing access to UK waters forever.
British fishermen have been surrounded and pursued by French trawlers in the English Channel
Fish wars broke out in the canal when French trawlers were confronted with British colleagues
The ships were surrounded by around 20 French boats and frying pans were thrown at them
The French crews even threw oil on the Gal Macey before firing a torch at the ship in the canal
Recent violence has raised fears that if hostilities worsen, death could result
This map shows the extent of the UK's Exclusive Economic Zone – the waters that Britain will regain control of after Brexit. Currently, the EEZ of each Member State of the European Union is grouped into one large zone accessible to fishermen from across Europe
Officials fear this could lead to a repetition of the “Cod Wars” of the 1970s, when British trawlers backed by the Royal Navy clashed with Icelandic coastguard vessels to maintain historic fishing rights in the North Atlantic.
Following the recent incident, Brian said & # 39; Winkle & # 39; Whittington, 43, Skipper of the Golden Promise: & # 39; I expected it this time, they just do it in the dark.
A moment of truth is emerging in the Brexit trade agreement: Boris Johnson is holding talks with EU leader Ursula von der Leyen TODAY, while Merkel is pushing for “realism” to clarify questions about fishing and the rules for a level playing field
Boris Johnson will hold trade talks with EU leader Ursula von der Leyen after Brexit today, when the Prime Minister’s time runs out.
Mr Johnson has made it clear that he would like the main lines of an agreement to be implemented by tomorrow's EU Council in Brussels, but there are still significant differences.
The Prime Minister and the President of the European Commission will seek to have discussions on governance after Angela Merkel has called for the bloc to become more realistic on key issues such as fishing rights.
The German Chancellor said that in order to reach an agreement, this would have to be "in the interests of both parties".
Mr Johnson and Ms von der Leyen will speak by phone while Michel Barnier, the EU's chief negotiator, and Lord Frost, his UK counterpart, meet in person in Brussels.
Lord Frost will tell the Prime Minister tomorrow if he believes there is a visible path to a deal and claims Britain will leave if a deal is not in sight.
“We can't use the radio when they do, as they just talk about us right away, so I couldn't check on Scott to see how he was doing.
We were about two miles apart and I had two or three boats around me. Scott had 15 around him, they threw oil on him and fired torches.
"I was mentally prepared for it, I knew it would happen again."
Derek Meredith, a Brixham fisherman and owner of the Golden Pledge, shared how he believes tensions in the canal are mounting.
He warned that the incident could easily have resulted in death because the torch could have set the Gal Macey on fire.
He said, “When I heard about this, I was very concerned that if that torch had gone into the wheelhouse, the boat would have burned and would the French have helped?
“The boat would sink and the French would just drown our boys. They shouldn't be doing what they are doing, but they seem to get away with it every year. & # 39;
Mr Meredith also called on the Royal Navy to help the British fishermen, saying they were routinely attacked while they were working.
He said that despite mounting tensions and worsening conflicts, nothing is being done and his crew must take care of themselves.
He added, “They act very aggressively, they do it every year. Last year they smashed our windows and things and nothing happened – they get away with it every year.
“The fishermen have surrounded boats and thrown things at them, it's the same as last year.
"They're pulling the fishing boat to get it out of hand and they'll escort you to the area where you're supposed to fish."
Tensions have increased every year due to the different catch restrictions between the UK and France.
British scallops are allowed to fish all year round, but the French are not allowed to fish between May 15th and October 1st.
Tensions are mounting due to the different catch restrictions between the UK and France
British scallops can fish all year round, but the French cannot fish between May 15th and October 1st
The difference in rules creates hostility to British fishermen and the French are trying to keep the best stock to themselves and keep British boats out of the good areas
Although the fishermen know their fate, today they return to the scene to continue fishing
A video made from footage of a British fisherman surrounded by French trawlers
This creates hostility to the British fishermen and the French are trying to hold the best stock to themselves and keep British boats out of the good areas.
Why the complex issue of fishing rights between the UK and the EU is shaking the Brexit talks in cold water
Each country has an exclusive economic zone that can extend up to 200 nautical miles from the coast.
This country has special fishing rights in this area.
In the EU, however, each country's exclusive economic zone is effectively amalgamated into a common EU zone.
All fishing activities in this zone are then regulated by the bloc's controversial Common Fisheries Policy, which dictates how many species of fish of each species can be caught.
The common EU zone is open to fishermen from all Member States.
After the transition to Brexit, the UK will regain sole control of its exclusive economic zone and the Royal Navy's reinforced fisheries protection squadron will be tasked with patrolling it to ensure that any ship operating there has the right to do so.
Mr. Meredith added, “It's a lot of rubbish, we didn't do anything wrong. What the French said is a charge of C ** P that our boats fished in the wrong place.
"The Navy is over there picking you up if you go the wrong area, they are chasing you all the time."
Although fishermen know their fate, today they return to the scene to keep fishing for scallops so they can make a living.
Mr. Meredith added, “I'm going back today, it will happen again tonight. It will take me about ten hours to get there. I'm mentally prepared for it to happen again.
"We don't fight back, if we start throwing things at them, it's our fault, not theirs."
The attacks after similar scenes last year when Mr Meredith said he had six crew members on the Golden Promise and Joanna C who were "extremely shaken" by an early morning attack in the English Channel.
He said his crew tried to protect themselves from objects thrown at them – while the French Navy just stood and watched.
And he claimed one of his boats may have sunk after its watertight integrity was violated by a flying shackle during the terrible two hour ordeal.
Cod Wars and the Fierce 30-Year “War for the Waters”: How Icelandic and British Fishermen First Struck Fishing Grounds in the 1950s
An ongoing dispute over fishing rights after Brexit has raised fears of a return to the so-called cod wars of the 1950s and 1970s.
In these clashes there were repeated conflicts between Great Britain and Iceland over access to waters in the North Atlantic.
The disputes were so bad that the Royal Navy had to intervene at times to prevent Icelandic boats from disrupting British trawlers.
The Grimsby trawler Gavina was harassed by the Icelandic gunboat Averkur during the "Cod Wars" in June 1973
More recently, there have also been disputes over fishing rights between the UK and its European neighbors.
In 2018 a so-called "scallop war" broke out in which French and British boats furiously pushed for access to shellfish off the coast of Normandy.
Britain is preparing for any post-Brexit eventuality. The government is hiring two additional ships to support the Royal Navy Fishery Protection Squadron's current four-ship fleet.
More than 20 other boats are now on standby, meaning the UK fishing patrol's capabilities are set to triple.