Greenpeace, fishermen face off in Marseilles

21st August 2006, Comments 0 comments

MARSEILLE, France, Aug 21, 2006 (AFP) - Fishermen and authorities running the port in France's southern city of Marseille are blocking the arrival of a Greenpeace ship due this week amid a row over a campaign to save dwindling tuna stocks.

MARSEILLE, France, Aug 21, 2006 (AFP) - Fishermen and authorities running the port in France's southern city of Marseille are blocking the arrival of a Greenpeace ship due this week amid a row over a campaign to save dwindling tuna stocks.

The head of a tuna fishermen's union, Mourad Kahoul, told journalists Monday that "if the Greenpeace ship arrives it won't be welcome — all the fishing sector is mobilised, the ship will not be accepted."

Marseille authorities have retracted initial permission given last month to Greenpeace for its Rainbow Warrior II to dock in the port.

"The main reason is that this is a commercial port and this ship is not a commercial ship," a spokeswoman, Claire Battedou, said, adding that security was also a concern.

Greenpeace had been planning to use its ship in the port for a public information campaign about the threat to tuna stocks from overfishing.

It was basing its action on a July report by the allied conservation group, the World Wide Fund for Nature, which said tuna were in danger of disappearing from the Mediterranean because of illegal catches by French, Turkish and Libyan boats.

But the head of a local tuna producers' association, Serge Perez, said French fishermen were subject to stringent quota controls and that most of the overfishing came from "Asian countries which charter (vessels) through dummy companies in the Canary Islands."

Kahoul said Greenpeace was embarking on a "public disinformation" exercise.

"These people are ecological extremists. We will not let them pollute the Marseille population," he said.

Greenpeace's Rainbow Warrior II had been scheduled to arrive Tuesday. But the organisation told AFP that it had been delayed a day because it had to make a sea rescue off Corsica.

Greenpeace said that if access to the port was refused, it would attempt to see through its campaign anyway while keeping the ship anchored off Marseille.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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