Ferries turn back as French fishermen blockade Calais

Hundreds of British travellers were forced to abandon their trips and turn back yesterday after French fishermen blockaded the port of Calais.

Two P&O ferries, The Pride of Kent and The Pride of Calais, turned round in the Channel to take their 600 passengers back to Dover. But The Pride of Dover managed to break through. The ship had been stuck in Calais as the dozen or so fishermen's boats were lined up along the mouth of the port. There were reports of similar incidents at Boulogne and Dunkirk.

A P&O spokeswoman said: "We believe it is a 24-hour protest and are hoping it will end sooner ... From what I gather, they are protesting at an EU directive telling them to increase the size of the holes in their fishing nets." Police in Kent set up emergency stopping points on roads leading into Dover to forestall ferry traffic. About 2,000 lorries travel between Dover and Calais daily and the fishermen's action was condemned by the Freight Transport Association. Members are due to hand a giant invoice for 800m French francs (pounds 100m) to the French embassy tomorrow for money owed to the UK and to European lorry drivers from November's lorry drivers' blockade of Calais.

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