Page last updated at 11:50 GMT, Friday, 17 April 2009 12:50 UK

Fishermen stage 'go-slow' protest

French fisherman
French protesters blockaded ports over EU fishing quotas earlier this week

Ships in the Channel had to take avoiding action after a flotilla of French trawlers staged a "go-slow" protest at sea.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said 31 trawlers moved up a shipping lane, side by side in a line, before turning back to France.

It follows blockades of French ports by protesters fighting EU fishing quotas this week.

The protests affected ferries, roads and businesses in Kent.

Dover Coastguard said about 31 fishing vessels sailed north two miles off the French coast between Boulogne and Calais, but outside the ferry lanes, before turning back at about 1000 BST.

Compensation demand

A spokesman said: "There was a protest in the north east lane of the Channel.

"Around 31 French fishing vessels joined up, blocking the lane, going up the lane very slowly.

"It meant ships in the area were having to be warned and take avoiding action.

It is time to say enough is enough

Paul Carter
Kent County Council leader

"It did not affect ferry services, but we are continuing to monitor the situation."

Thousands of holidaymakers and hauliers faced disruption over two days this week after French fisherman blockaded the ports of Calais, Dunkirk and Boulogne.

The action ended on Thursday, allowing cross-Channel ferry services to return to normal, after fishermen reportedly agreed to consider a fresh offer from French authorities.

Earlier, Kent County Council revealed it had launched a campaign to end disruption to Channel crossings caused by strikes in France.

Lorries waiting on the M20 near Ashford in Kent on Tuesday
The blockades led to Operation Stack being implemented in Kent

Council leader Paul Carter said: "It is time to say enough is enough."

The campaign, which is backed by ferry operators, is aiming to put pressure on the government to claim compensation from the French authorities.

During the dispute, the French government rejected demands to renegotiate fishing quotas in the Channel, but the fisheries minister offered 4m euros in aid to the fishermen.

Mr Carter said: "We are seeking urgent legal advice to establish whether France has broken the law by allowing the strikes to stop the free movement of people and goods.

"If this is the case we will press the government to take this up with the French authorities and press for compensation."

Print Sponsor

French fishermen lift blockades
16 Apr 09 |  Europe


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