Page last updated at 23:36 GMT, Tuesday, 14 April 2009 00:36 UK

French boats block Channel ports


French fishing boats have mounted a blockade of three Channel ports, interrupting ferry and freight traffic in a dispute over fishing quotas.

At Calais, Boulogne and Dunkirk fishing fleets were preventing ships entering or leaving the harbour.

However, ferry company P&O says the Calais blockade has now been lifted and stranded passengers are on the move.

British police have warned of serious delays and have started parking lorries on the M20 motorway.

Richard Barclay, returning from an Easter break in Belgium with his family, said some passengers had showed signs of frustration towards the port authorities, but "most people are just resigned to wait".

"The main problem is there is nothing to do, and only one facility, with an hour's wait to buy a sandwich," he told BBC News.

Calais relief

Late on Tuesday ferry operator P&O said that the blockade of Calais had been lifted, and it hoped to clear the back-log of 3,000 passengers by morning.

French fishing unions say they are protesting at ever tougher EU-imposed quotas, and are demanding that the French government take a stand on their behalf or offer more financial assistance.

They have not said how long their protest will last.

The EU says limiting the size of fishing catches is the best way to stop stocks being wiped out through over-fishing.

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