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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: http://www.humanite.fr/2007-11-05_P...

by O. M.

French Fishermen Are Furious.

Translated Tuesday 6 November 2007, by Gene Zbikowski

Soaring diesel fuel prices are throttling French deep-sea fishermen. French agriculture minister Michel Barnier says he’ll meet with them, but they’re continuing their industrial action.

The deep-sea fishermen’s struggle is likely to go on for some time. “We shall receive the representatives of the deep-sea fishermen early in the week, on Tuesday or Wednesday,” stated French agriculture minister Michel Barnier, who, however, refused the deep-sea fishermen’s Friday invitation to come to a port. Barnier’s statement consequently hardly offers any concrete hope at the moment that the deep-sea fishermen’s problems will be addressed seriously.

Nevertheless, the minister did say he wished to recognize “the very great expectations that have been expressed over the past few days regarding the problem of the diesel fuel price hike” and that he wished “to work with [the fishermen] to develop concrete responses beyond the 27 million euros in structural measures that were announced last Tuesday.” He pointed out, however, that these “propositions” would have to be “within the framework of European Union rules.” Michel Barnier had announced on Tuesday that he would sign “in the very near future” “plans to reduce the fishing fleet.” In plain English, this means that some fishing boat captains might be encouraged to scrap their boats in exchange for financial aid.

Will there be any announcements for the fishermen that will be likely to defuse the crisis?

Their representatives have calculated that the break-even point for a fishing boat hinges on a diesel oil price not in excess of 30 eurocents a liter. “Today, the price is 52 eurocents a liter,” says the Guilvinec crisis committee. Guilvinec, located in the French département of Finistère in northwestern France, is the number one French deep-sea fishing port. The price of diesel fuel represents 30 percent of the turnover generated by a fishing boat, as against 15% two years ago.

On Saturday, the Guilvinec deep-sea fishermen staged two slow-downs while deep-sea fishermen in Normandy delayed the start of the Tansat Jacques-Vabre transatlantic sailboat race for one hour.

The representatives of the striking Breton and Vendée fishing ports – notably Lorient, Concarneau, Le Guilvinec, La Turballe, Les Sables-d’Olonne, Saint-Malo and Le Croisic – announced they were taking industrial action, beginning as early as Monday morning, and notably with fuel depots as their target.

Philippe Le Moigne, the spokesman for the Guilvinec crisis committee, declared that “there’s no point in us going to Paris to discuss band-aid measures. Our objective is the creation of financial aids for the purchase of diesel fuel.”

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