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Fishermen snub government aid

Latest update : 2008-05-23

While some of France's striking fishermen are back at sea, others are again blocking access to fuel depots in the south of France. For them, the government's 110-million-euro aid package is not enough to counter rising fuel costs.

On Wednesday 21st, the French government offered the fishing industry 110 million euros ($173 million) in aid this year after days of protests by fishermen angry over the rising cost of diesel.

 

The fishermen say they face bankruptcy unless the government intervenes because the cost of marine diesel has risen by 30 percent since the beginning of the year.

 

The cost of marine diesel has risen to 75 euro cents a litre on average from 58 cents at the start of 2008.

 

The fishing industry employs about 24,000 people in France, and provides another 70,000 jobs in related sectors.

 

Oil giants Total and ExxonMobil reported fishermen were blocking truck traffic at their La Mede and Fos-sur-Mer refineries, which supply service stations in the Marseille region in the southeast.

 

Fishermen continued to besiege fuel depots along the coastline, although police forcibly removed them from two depots supplying the southwestern city of Bordeaux.

 

All major fishing ports and some commercial ports were also blockaded by fishing boats, some carrying banners that said “Sarkozy, liar! Seamen are dying” in reference to promises by President Nicolas Sarkozy last year to aid the industry.

 

Sarkozy said on Tuesday 30 million euros had already been disbursed to help fishermen this year as part of the plan announced in January.

 

Stiff competition from imported fish, which makes up 85 percent of French consumption, and depleted fish stocks close to the coasts which force boats to sail further out to sea, have compounded the fuel problem.

 

Competition from importers, as well as the traditional auction system for fresh fish mean that it is difficult for fishermen to pass on the rising cost of diesel to consumers.

Date created : 2008-05-23

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