Fishermen continues to block France's port
French fishermen blocked the second port of Le Havre on Friday as Mediterranean fleets pressed on with a strike to demand government action.30 May 2008
LE HAVRE - French fishermen protesting high fuel prices blocked the second port of Le Havre on Friday as Mediterranean fleets pressed on with a strike to demand government action.
About 20 trawlers formed a ring at Le Havre, the second largest port after Marseille, preventing boats from leaving and entering the harbour, port authorities said.
The fishermen demanded compensation for the price of diesel that has soared to more than EUR 0.70 a litre from EUR 0.40 in November and also blamed European fishing quotas for their dire financial straits.
Measures to bring down the price of diesel are "a national demand backed by all the fishermen of France but we are also here protesting quotas," said Patrick Dameuve, a fishermen from Dieppe.
In southern France, fishermen blocked access to two Mediterranean oil refineries and a depot for several hours before peacefully ending their protest.
The fishermen left the Fos-sur-Mer oil terminal when anti-riot police arrived at the site and later decided to lift their blockades of the La Mede and Ineos refineries, police said.
"Now we are meeting to decide on our actions," said Herve Gout-Vernier, from the Martigues trawlers' union. "The strike is continuing."
Mediterranean fishing fleets have vowed to keep up their strike until Monday to press for government action to help them cope with the hike in the price of fuel.
Police were also dispatched overnight to the site of a fuel depot near Toulouse in southern France where about 100 farmers had set up roadblock on Wednesday.
The protesters decided to leave after a tense standoff with the police, said Claire Lebelle, a spokeswoman for the farmers.
President Nicolas Sarkozy's government last week announced EUR 100 million in immediate aid for the fishermen, who say rising fuel costs are driving them to the brink of bankruptcy.
While Channel and Atlantic fleets have called off their strike, fishermen in northwestern Brittany and the Mediterranean have kept up their protests and blockades.
Fishing fleets in Spain and Portugal went on strike Friday, also angered by soaring fuel costs.
[AFP / Expatica]