Cross-channel travel between Britain and mainland Europe is at a virtual standstill for the second day running because of a blockade of ports by French fishermen. Trucks, buses and cars are backed up on both sides of the channel. The protestors have paralysed ferry services in and out of Dunkirk, Boulogne and Calais – three of the most important transit points.
The fishing industry is furious that the EU is cutting the amount of cod and sole they are allowed to catch to protect the species from over-fishing. Trawlerman Olivier Lepretre said: “We just want a quota, not cash handouts. We want to be able to work and make a living from our profession, that’s all.” Union leaders have agreed a meeting with the fisheries minister in Paris, hoping the government will put pressure on officials in Brussels. But the European Commission remains unmoved. Nathalie Charbonneau from the European Commission on Fisheries said: “Is there room for manoeuvre on quotas? The answer is no. So in view of this situation, obviously the solution does not lie in an increase in quotas, which would only result in collapsing fish stocks and, in the end, ruining the fishing fleets concerned.” The ferries lying idle offer no hope of an early trip home for the tens of thousands of travellers heading back after the Easter break. The British line P&O is suing the French authorities for losses arising from the blockade.