French fishermen step up protest against oil spill

Written by CNN Staff Writer

“It is France, that has to get rid of the jackals,” he told CNN at the time.

“The worst is ahead because the marine police…work with the Marine Harvest and the crew can freeze out the food that is healthy for all the fishermen here.”

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On Wednesday (French time), Vieux Bienvenue 4 , a pressure group representing fishermen from the Saint Maries-La Conception, held a press conference in Félix-les-Bains, a coastal city around six miles from where the oil found in 2000 is believed to have come from.

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The group demanded France cancel its contracts with the Sea Shepherd activists. It also renewed a call to hold a public inquiry into the incident and called for the release of the only crew member of the two sea lions taken from their enclosure after the oil was found.

“We will not rest until the problem is resolved and the remaining two sea lions returned to the care of the National Marine Aquarium,” said one protester, in a video by the French newspaper Le Figaro .

“Fishermen also seek security of income that is lost in the storms.”

Damien Broglio, head of the French Marine Oil Conservation Observatory, agreed, telling Le Figaro : “It is the state who profit from the incidents. The private enterprise only lags behind.”

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An investigation by marine police officers is ongoing, a statement from President Macron’s office said. Marine tankers were not equipped to collect the underwater oil products, and some state-owned companies would also be fined.

As part of their protest, the group on Wednesday claimed to have gathered enough signatures to start a strike which would block road access to coastal ports and the six World Trade Organization vessels that the government has allowed to enter the ports.

The group has gathered signatures and materials to help them join the action, said one of the protestors at the press conference.

“An alliance of fishermen, ship owners, fishing and ship recycling associations, and lawmakers all opposed to the Saint Maries Marine Harvest deal have joined forces in support of a new national ecological network,” said a statement published by the Port and Maritime Workers’s Federation on Thursday.

There are more than 260,000 registered fishermen in France, according to an article published earlier this month in The Guardian.

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French fishermen and supporters are not the only people worried about fishermen using the Saint Maries oil.

A Greenpeace convoy of 40 activists has gathered near the site of the spill, Reuters reported.

The Greenpeace activists are demanding that BP deepwater oil exploration in the Atlantic – and other industry players such as oil services companies – change the criteria for its contracts that include humane treatment of animals.

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