Two French fishermen said Wednesday they will blockade a tunnel in protest over what they called inadequate fishing quotas.
Underwater and surface visibility is so poor in the Channel Tunnel that freight trains cannot move, the area’s busiest rail link is closed, and vehicles are barred from entering because of the poor visibility.
Bruno Botha, a long-time racer who heads the “Guy de Font-en-Fay” fleet, said the fleet would block the port of Calais, which handles many of the country’s exports, for a minimum of four days beginning Monday.
The dramatic scenes are the latest in a series of protests in Calais by French fishermen over their fishing claims against Britain.
British fishermen say their claims are being ignored and their catch lost to unfair rules.
A major public works project that prevents entry of trucks, has been in place for years, but no improvements have been made for the past year.
Botha said it’s time that France improves the scheme that prevents the traffic of lorries from coming into Britain.
“Until now, French authorities have always denied their responsibility, this is the third time we are going to the end of the tunnel, to say the least, we’re going to exercise this last resort, we’re going to blockade the port of Calais,” Botha said.
The tunnel operator, Eurotunnel, said three lanes will be open to vehicles. Ferry companies expect to hold many thousands of passengers because of the high number of ships seeking to dock.
The company said it has asked British authorities to open to pedestrian traffic, from early Friday to Sunday morning. That would allow officials to do some repairs on the causes of the problem and possibly open up three lanes to traffic.
“For a number of months now, the tunnels have been subject to low to zero visibility conditions and we can’t bring in an additional time or an additional lane of traffic,” said a Eurotunnel spokesman.
Separately, he said the company expects to use more emergency generator power by the weekend and a full power outage is expected to take place on Saturday night to Sunday morning because of one of two breaks in the lines.
The bridge of Calais is closed, and motorists are banned from using parts of the Channel Tunnel.
Botha said the blockade would be the fifth in the past four years.
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