Tuesday, April 14, 2009
French fishing vessels have blockaded the English Channel ports of Calais, Bolougne, and Dunkirk.
|Not a boat will go in nor out|
The protest is an industrial action over tighter fishing quotas imposed by the European Union, with French fishing unions asking for their government to provide financial assistance or take a tougher line. CFTC Fishermans Union spokesman Bruno Dachicourt told Agence France Presse: “There are easily twenty boats blocking the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer in organized ranks. Not a boat will go in nor out.”
The fishermen are protesting the lowering of European Union quotas on fishing, which place a ceiling on the amount of fish that the fishermen of each member country are allowed to catch and sell. The EU has lowered quotas in response to concerns about the sustainability of fisheries, but each drop in quota reduces the amount of work each fishing vessel can do. “The feeble amount of the quota obliges us to close the fishing zones three months after the beginning of the catch”, said Stéphane Pinto, spokesman for the CFDT trade union group representing fishermen in Boulogne.
Ferry sailings between Dover in the United Kingdom and Calais were suspended, with UK authorities implementing the Operation Stack management plan in response. Under the plan sections of the M20 motorway are closed to traffic and used as a managed lorry park. Motorists have been advised to seek alternative routes if possible. Most cars and passengers from the P&O Calais-Dover sailings at 16.10 (apparently the first sailing affected), 17.40 and 18.25 left on the “Pride of Dover” at 11.47 arriving Dover at 12.30. Two SeaFrance ferries, Renoir and another, left slightly earlier.
Fishermen have also used fires and roadblocks to interfere with access to the ports by road.
The blockades come eight days after a similar incident in the Mediterranean, when French fishermen in Marseille, Ajaccio, Toulon and other port cities interfered with oil tanker movements and blockaded ports throughout the south of the country.
Wikinews is unaware of any official statement from the British or French Governments in response to the blockade.