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French fishing strike to continue

Fishing boasts are docked and nets are spread on the harbour in protest in Port-de-Bessin on 24 May
Protest action has been continuing for more than two weeks

French fishermen have voted to continue blockades of several ports and fuel depots for two more days in protest at fishing quotas and rising diesel costs.

The decision was taken by fishing crews from Channel ports including Calais, Dunkirk, Dieppe and Boulogne.

Earlier, a government offer of fuel aid persuaded some fishermen to go back to work after more than a week of action.

Dozens of British sailors and holidaymakers are stranded on the Continent as the result of the action.

The fishermen say the aid package is not enough to compensate them for the price of marine diesel, which has almost doubled in six months.

Meanwhile, the four main Mediterranean fishing federations - from Italy, Spain, Greece and Malta - are holding talks in Paris to discuss possible joint action.

'Ramming and flares'

After long discussions on Monday, fishing crews agreed to maintain their strikes and blockades and suggested they would call for a Europe-wide protest in the next few days.

We had flares - lighted flares - thrown at us, water poured at us, a right ding-dong really
Mark Leach
British yachtsman

Depleted fish stocks mean trawlers have to use more fuel by sailing further out to sea, and strict EU fishing quotas mean the fishermen are limited in the amount they can catch and sell for profit.

In Boulogne, fishermen have already strung cables across the port entrance to stop colleagues and other fleets heading out to sea.

Last week the British port of Dover was forced to close as a result of the strikes and hundreds of ferry passengers were stranded.

One Briton, Mark Leach, has been stuck on a yacht in Saint Vaast, near Cherbourg, since Saturday.

"We tried to get out of the harbour this morning and there was a barricade across the harbour entrance, and they stopped us getting out, and that led to quite a confrontation and our boat got rammed and damaged," he told the BBC.

"We had flares - lighted flares - thrown at us, water poured at us, a right ding-dong really, and there's about 30 boats here, all trying to get out and none of us can get out, so we're all stuck here."


SEE ALSO
In pictures: French fishermen protest
21 May 08 |  In Pictures


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