Blockade on French ports temporarily lifted for meetings

16th April 2009, Comments 0 comments

Three-day blockade was temporarily lifted early Thursday to enable the protesting fishermen to attend council meetings concerning whether the movements would continue.

LILLE – The three-day blockade on the Channel ports of Calais and Dunkirk was temporarily lifted early Thursday to enable striking fishermen to take part in work council meetings, a union source said.

A third port, Boulogne-sur-mer, remained blocked by fishermen angry at EU quotas on their catches.

The blockade continued despite a court order to end the protest, and an offer by French Fisheries Minister Michel Barnier of EUR four million in aid to fishermen in the north of France.

Meetings were scheduled for 0800 GMT in Dunkirk and 1100 GMT in Calais to decide on whether the movement would continue after fishermen's representatives met with Barnier in Paris late Wednesday.

A French court ordered the fishing fleets to lift their blockade of Boulogne and Calais or face heavy fines for each hour of lost business for the ports, according to a lawyer acting for French and British ferry companies.

Union leaders, however, vowed to defy the ruling and maintain the protest.

Some 500 independent fishermen, who say their livelihood is under threat from European Union limits on their catch, have stopped ships entering or leaving Calais, Boulogne and Dunkirk since Tuesday.

The 100-strong flotilla halted all cross-Channel ferry and freight traffic, with port and transport authorities urging car and truck drivers to delay their journey or choose an alternative route.

AFP / Expatica

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