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French fisherman angry about fuel costs

Latest update : 2008-05-19

Fishermen angry about a near doubling in fuel prices since last November have blockaded one Mediterranean port while stepping up protests in others.

French fishermen angry at high fuel costs on Monday blocked a Mediterranean oil port and stepped up protests at other Atlantic and Channel ports.
  
Fishing crews strung a drift net across the entrance to the Lavera oil terminal, at Port-de-Bouc, preventing boats from entering and leaving the harbour, the Marseille port authority said.
  
The eighth largest port at La Rochelle remained paralyzed, including its fuel depot which supplies much of western France as fishermen kept up their protest launched on Wednesday.
  
From Pas-de-Calais in the north to Marseille, fishermen vowed to keep up their protest ahead of a meeting on Wednesday with Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Michel Barnier on a rescue package for the industry.
  
President Nicolas Sarkozy announced a 310 million euro (480 million dollar) aid package to fishermen after several French ports were blockaded in November.
  
But the fishermen now say the aid is not enough to cope with the sharp increase in the price of diesel fuel that has reached 79 euro cents per litre, up from 40 cents in November.
  
Fisheries minister Barnier on Sunday suggested there could be "adjustments" to the aid package.
  
The president of the fishermen's committee in the northern city of Saint-Malo warned that if no breakthrough came from the talks with Barnier "there will be action on land and on sea".
  
Fisherman Jacques Bigot from the CFTC union in the northern Pas-de-Calais region said fishing quotas were also part of the problem.
  
"All of last week, the boats went out to sea.. but we aren't able to cover the cost of the diesel with what we are allowed to catch," Bigot told AFP.
  
"The situation is getting desperate", he added.
  
The crews from some 60 boats at the Boulogne-sur-Mer, France's biggest fishing port in terms of tonnage, went on strike on Monday.
  
Budget minister Eric Woerth said that the government was committed to providing promised aid, but added that "much had been done on the issue of fuel for the boats and to reduce the social charges of the fishermen."
  
He suggested that France would turn to the European Union, with Barnier due to present French proposals at a meeting in Brussels on Monday of European agriculture and fisheries ministers.
  
Fishermen were also blocking the ports of Ile d'Oleron, Sables d'Olonne, La Turballe and Croisic along the Atlantic seabord.
  
About a dozen boats also set up a blockade of the Cherbourg while fishing boats stood idle in the Normandy ports of Port-en-Bessin and Trouville-sur-Mer.

Date created : 2008-05-19

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