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UK/France - Channel blockade

French fishermen to move protests to land, ending Channel blockade

Article published on the 2009-04-17 Latest update 2009-04-17 12:37 TU

French fishing boats formed part of a blockade at the Port of Calais in northern France on 14 April 2009.(Photo: Reuters)

French fishing boats formed part of a blockade at the Port of Calais in northern France on 14 April 2009.
(Photo: Reuters)

French fishermen on Thursday called off a three-day port blockade in protest to EU fishing quotas, which suspended cross-Channel ferries and freight on one of the world's busiest shipping lanes.

"We are going to continue our movement to show we are mobilised, but we are going to change our type of action," said Bruno Dachicourt of the CFTC union federation.

Dachicourt said the fishermen would move their protests to land, including a fish-processing factory near Boulogne.

About 500 fishermen blocked the ports of Calais, Dunkirk and Boulogne from Tuesday to Thursday morning demanding the right to return to sea after they met their annual catch quotas. The fishermen, who say the EU limits threaten their livelihood, ended the protest with a mult-million-euro offer in hand.

Many French fishermen have already exceeded their quotas for the first six months of 2009 despite the fact that the French cod quotas were increased 30 per cent over last year's figure.

The French government ruled out increasing the cod catch quota, but agreed to try and increase the quota for sole, as well as offering four million euros of aid for fishermen forced to stay ashore.

Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Michel Barnier is negotiating to increase the sole quota by trading fishing rights with other EU countries.

The European Commission said it would examine whether the proposed aid was allowed under EU rules.

The quotas set by the EU are aimed to prevent stocks from being wiped out through overfishing.

Ferries in Calais, Dunkirk and Boulogne resumed services.