Fishermen blockade port for seven hours: Tees protest over Russian imports

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The Independent Online
FISHERMEN blockaded the Tees yesterday with a flotilla of about 70 boats from Hartlepool, Scarborough, Whitby and other east coast ports. The boats were tied together preventing ships from entering or leaving Teesport for seven hours.

At 10am the fishermen were warned by Tees and Hartlepool Port Authority that legal action would be taken if they did not move. The boats did not move so at 1pm an injunction was obtained ordering them to leave the channel. But before it could be served on the skippers, the boats cast off and disappeared into the North Sea.

Richard Banks, chief executive of the National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations, said that the blockade was a grass roots protest. 'You will probably see more action later this week if David Curry (Minister of State at the Minstry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food) does not start to listen to us and take some action,' he said.

'We have been to Brussels and to the House of Commons but this is the only way we can get attention for our case. We want the Government to drop the Seafish Conservation Bill and we want import controls for Russian fish.'

The Government has said that only small quantities of Russian fish have been landed in Britain this year and that these landings had nothing to do with the recent fall in the price of fish in Britain. However, Mr Banks said that large quantities of Russian fish were getting into Britain via Norway and Denmark.

'The Russian fish is landed in other countries and then brought here because Britain is the centre of the European fish market,' he said. 'The Russians have been selling fish at any price because they are desperate for hard currency. That is why the price has fallen by 40 per cent or more. We are not landing any more fish then we were a year ago when prices were high.'