Fisher-Fu Fighting

22 May 2008

Fishermen continued to clash with riot police outside the Agriculture Ministry in Paris yesterday after days of protests over rising fuel costs. In an attempt to alleviate tension, the French government offered the fishing industry a 110m euro subsidy.

For the past week fishermen have blockaded ports and oil depots around France, creating fuel shortages in certain areas. However, president of the National Fishing Committee, Pierre-Georges Dachicourt, has now called for ‘All fishing crews to return to the sea’, but it is uncertain whether the strike will end.

Initially the fishermen’s blockade was confined to only a few ports such as La Rochelle on the west coast, but since Wednesday it has spread to Calais, Boulogne and Dunkirk on the north coast, with cross-Channel ferry services to Great Britain being cut off by a band of fishing boats.

Frederic Mateo, a union representative from Marseille, described the government promise as ‘vague’ and added that ‘We are not very satisfied with the announcement’.

After discussions with industry representatives, Agriculture Minister Michel Barnier announced that the aid package worth 310m proposed to fishermen this January will be put into effect as soon as possible and, pending approval from the EU commission, will be implemented over two years instead of the envisaged three.

Fishermen, however, are still of the opinion that, as fuel costs have increased by 30% since the start of the year, the agreement is redundant.

Sources
BBC News
International Herald Tribune

Victoria Blackshaw

[email protected]

Photo:Associated Press

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