French fishermen have lifted their blockade of the northern French ports of Dunkirk, Calais and Boulogne-sur-mer, though vowing to continue their protest movement against EU quotas on catches.
AFP - French fishermen agreed on Thursday to end a paralysing blockade of Channel ports staged in protest at EU fishing quotas, unions said.
The fishermen, who cut ferry links between Britain and the ports of Calais, Boulogne and Dunkirk Tuesday and Wednesday, decided to lift the blockade while vowing to continue their protest by other means.
"We are going to continue our movement to show that we are mobilised, but we are going to change our type of action," Bruno Dachicourt of the CFTC union said following a meeting of protesting fleets in Boulogne.
He said the protestors would step up a blockade of a fish processing factory near Boulogne.
The blockade of Calais and Dunkirk was suspended early Thursday while fleets met to consider a government offer of aid, allowing ferry services to resume, although Boulogne remained blocked.
Some 500 local fishermen, many of whom have exceeded their cod and sole quotas for the first six months of 2009, are pushing for a review of the EU limits so they can return to sea.
Both Paris and the European Union have ruled out any increase for this year's cod catch, pointing out that French cod quotas have been boosted 30 percent since 2008.
But Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Michel Barnier Wednesday put four million euros in aid on the table for fishermen forced to stay at shore, as well as loans of up to 50 million euros for indebted fishing companies.
The European Commission said Thursday it would examine whether the aid meets EU rules.
Barnier also said he was negotiating to obtain an increase in the French sole quota, by trading fishing rights with other EU member states.
Date created : 2009-04-16