April 16, 2009

France offers aid to blockading fishermen

A French official said Thursday the government would release $5 million to support cod fisherman who are blockading ferry ports to protest fishing quotas.

French agriculture and fisheries minister Michel Barnier made the announcement Thursday to help break up blockades at Calais, Boulogne and Dunkirk, now in a third day, the EU Observer reported.

On Wednesday, the European Commission said quotas on English Channel cod and sole would not be changed. Barnier, however, requested a meeting with the European commissioner in charge of fisheries Joe Borg with French fishermen in attendance.

Fishermen have temporarily allowed ferries through, halting the blockade in Calais on Wednesday night to allow the port to reduce the number of stranded passengers, the report said.

But, French trade union, CFDT, has said it would take action to shut down the Eurotunnel and the high-speed rail service Eurostar.

Media reports indicate French police would take action to keep the tunnel open and the rail service operating, the EU Observer said.