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Sailor tells of blockade saga in France

PUBLISHED: 11:15 29 May 2008 | UPDATED: 20:30 05 July 2010

A SAILOR from Lowestoft has told how he was among Britons freed from a blockade of French ports enforced by fishermen angry over high fuel costs and EU fishing quotas.

A SAILOR from Lowestoft has told how he was among Britons freed from a blockade of French ports enforced by fishermen angry over high fuel costs and EU fishing quotas.

About 20 British yachts barricaded in the marina at Cherbourg broke free after ropes and steel wire used to contain them were temporarily lifted by militant trawlermen.

Paul Haysom, 60, a retired sea pilot and skipper of Herminoe, said: “They've given in - we've defeated them. We've been sitting around here for seven days and been treated disgracefully. Flares have been fired and people intimidated.”

Fishermen from ports including Boulogne, Calais and La Rochelle have voted to extend their protest over high fuel costs and EU fishing quotas by an extra 48 hours.

While some Britons escaped from Cherbourg, dozens more remained trapped as blockades continued at ports on the French Channel coast.

In Saint Vaast, a stand-off between UK yachtsmen and French trawlermen ended in defeat for British efforts to break out of port.

Skipper Mark Leach told how his vessel was rammed as he attempted to slip out of the harbour and some French protesters threw lighted flares which narrowly missed his boat.

French president Nicolas Sarkozy announced a e310m (£247m) aid package to fishermen after several ports were blockaded in November.

But the fishermen recently said that the aid was not enough to cope with the sharp increase in the price of diesel.

And hopes of a swift end faded yesterday as Spanish, Italian and Greek fishermen signalled readiness to join the action.

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