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French ports blocked over EU fishing ban

BOULOGNE-SUR-MER, France, Dec 10 (AFP) – French fishermen blockaded ports around the country Wednesday in a protest against European fishing policies, causing the cancellation of cross-channel ferries to England.

Access to the ports of Boulogne, Calais, Dunkirk, Cherbourg, Concarneau Marseille, Nice and Ajaccio in Corsica was cut by lines of fishing-boats, in a day of action called by the European Fishing Action Group (EFAG) ahead of key EU negotiations on quotas in Brussels next week.

With ferry services between Calais and Dover unable to operate, the P and O line laid on four mini-cruises into French waters to allow pre-Christmas trippers from England access to on-board low-duty shopping bargains.

The European Commission is to meet next Wednesday to discuss proposals from Fishing Commissioner Franz Fischler to cut by nearly 50 percent the authorised catch of endangered species such as cod.

“We share the Commission’s objective of managing the fish stocks on a sustainable basis, but absolutely reject both its chosen instruments and its unrealistic time-scale for recovery,” said a statement from the EFAG, which has representatives from eight EU countries.

“This is a first warning to show the Commission that French and European fishermen are not dead,” said Mourad Kahoul, president of the regional fishing committee on the Mediterranean coast.

The EU wants a raft of new measures including wider nets and a size limit on around 20 species to prevent young fish being caught, but the EFAG says tens of thousands of jobs could be axed in the resulting loss of business.

In Belgium, a fleet of Dutch, Belgian, British and French boats unloaded five tonnes of fish in the port of Antwerp, where they were distributed free to passers-by.

 © AFP

                                                                Subject: France news