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French fishing dispute spreads despite government offer of help

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French fishing dispute spreads despite government offer of help


The French fishing dispute over soaring fuel prices is casting its net wider to include other European countries. French fishermen have ignored government calls to lift their blockades on ports and fuel depots, despite an administration promise to provide the industry with 110 million euros in aid.

Fishermen claim they will go out of business unless they can buy fuel at 40 cents a litre as opposed to the market price of 80 cents.

As the French disrupted fishing lanes and raided fish wholesalers, their Belgian counterparts came together in Zeebrugge to hand out free fish to the public.

Hundreds gathered at the quayside to pick up their fresh plaice. The fish were given away with a leaflet explaining the industry’s plight. Similar demonstrations are building in Spain and Portugal. The price of marine diesel has surged by 30 percent in the past four months.

Depleted fishstocks close to the coast and fishing quotas have compounded the fuel problem, forcing trawlers to sail further and further out to sea.

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