European fishermen protest outside EU building

4th June 2008, Comments 0 comments

About 200 fishermen from Spain, France, Italy and Portugal gathered in Brussels on Wednesday to demand cheaper fuel.

4 June 2008

BRUSSELS - Fishermen from France, Italy, Spain and Portugal gathered outside the European Union's headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday to demand cheaper petrol.

About 200 protesters were being kept at a safe distance from the European Commission's building by anti-riot police, ready to fire water cannons should temper flare.

Protesters were demanding petrol prices of EUR 0.40 cents per litre, with one Italian banner reading: "We can't keep up with the pace of petrol."

"We have to find a solution for fuel that is compatible with European Union (rules)," said Pierre D'Acunto, a French protester.

Thousands of fishermen were expected in Brussels, but participants said many of their colleagues had been prevented from reaching the Belgian capital by the police.

The European Union says fishing fleets should restructure rather than demand aid to survive soaring fuel prices.

"There is a future for European fisheries, but only if member states, the sector and the European Commission work together to create a smaller, more fuel-efficient fleet that is better matched to fishing possibilities," EU Fisheries Commissioner Joe Borg said in a recent statement.

Fishermen across Europe have been hit hard by soaring fuel prices, with commission figures saying that the price of marine diesel has shot up 240 percent since 2004.

The commission, which is responsible for setting annual limits on the amount and type of fish which EU fishermen catch, regularly comes under fire from the industry, which accuses the Brussels body of setting unfairly low quotas and overloading it with complex legislation.

Wednesday's demonstration follows similar protests by fishermen in Italy, Spain, Ireland and other European countries.

text by dpa / Expatica
photos by Lucian Stanescu and Flickr contributor quarsan

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