French fishermen block ports, shut down Channel ferries

April 15th, 2009 - 4:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Paris, April 15 (DPA) Ferry services between Britain and France remained severely disrupted Wednesday as French fishermen blocked three northern French ports to protest against European Union fishing quotas, French media reported.
The ports of Boulogne-sur-Mer, Dunkirk and Calais were closed for a second consecutive day by fleets of fishing boats as their owners were demanding that Brussels raise its quotas on sole and cod.

British shipping company P&O Ferries shut down its ferry service across the English Channel for a second day Wednesday, while three other British ferry companies also shut down services between Dover and the three blocked ports.

Farms and Fisheries Minister Michel Barnier told the fishermen that he could not ask Brussels to change its quotas, since quotas for cod had been raised by 30 percent over last year.

Barnier said that the government was prepared to provide economic aid to make up for losses caused by the catch restrictions and has offered to meet with the fishermen Thursday, but his offer was rejected.

A union official representing fishermen said the entire northern fleet of independent fishermen, comprising about 110 ships, was involved in the blockade, and they could soon be joined by fishermen working out of other northern ports, such as Cherbourg and Le Havre.

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