French fishermen have vented their anger over high fuel costs by taking their protest to the Dover Strait and blocked access to a Total oil refinery despite government pledges to unlock aid. It is said that nearly 40 trawlers formed a queue near the Boulogne-sur-mer port to slow down traffic through the Dover Strait, one of the busiest seaways used by some 600 vessels a day between the Atlantic and the North Sea.
According to a source fishermen in Dunkirk have set fire to crates and set up roadblocks to prevent trucks from entering the Total oil refinery where riot police were deployed to secure the entrances. In Normandy the fishermen ransacked fish stands at two wholesalers while police dismantled roadblocks set up five days ago to cut off access to the BP Mobil depot at Frontignan in the south.
Reacting to this Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Michel Barnier said that he defend his offer of 110 million euros (173 million dollars) in immediate aid to help cushion the cost of soaring fuel prices. He told that this aid has nothing in common with what has been done in the past. It is an urgent response to the need to modernise French fisheries.
The fishermen said that they were dissatisfied with the government’s offer and refused to heed the call from their leaders to go back to work. The trawler crews from Guilvinec were to meet with truckers and farmers to discuss joint action against the soaring price they pay for diesel, some 75 euro cents a litre compared with 40 cents in November.