French fishermen threaten to block Channel Tunnel in protest over licenses

Written by Staff Writer

A group of French fishermen who are embroiled in a long-running dispute with Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne are threatening to block access to the Channel Tunnel and the ports in southern France in a protest over fishing licenses.

The fishermen said the move was their only option to gain support to continue to battle the transport minister.

“The (port of Calais) is one of the biggest ports in Europe. It’s not a (seizure) port,” Anis Bardiriou, the president of the fishermen’s group.

“In recent days we are surrounded with violence (against us). She hides behind the Channel and we are alone, without proper support,” he told reporters.

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The port is the only European port operating within the scheme and provides two thirds of France’s fish exports to the UK.

Referring to the conflict the minister faced with comedian Guy Oseary, she replied that “there have been no citizens’ arrests,” noting the arrests were of protest organizers.

Borne also said the French authorities were seeking ways to “work out this issue” during a visit to Nice, the capital of the south of France.

Last week a group of fishermen from the area started a three-week hunger strike in protest against what they claim to be expropriations of their fishing properties by Borne’s staff.

The French minister insists that what she calls her “debt-lever” of land for the development of the car tunnel continues to stand, noting in a press conference last month that there were “only” 42 people involved in the situation, but only four of them are French.

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