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Caribbean-On-Line / St. Barts / Local Stuff / News / Fishermen Block Port of Gustavia to Protest High Gas Prices

Fishermen Block Port of Gustavia to Protest High Gas Prices

Starting at 5:00 am on Monday, December 17, about thirty fishermen blocked entry to the port of Gustavia with their boats to protest the high price of gas. The blockade prevented cargo ships, cruise ships and the ferry between St Barth and St Martin from entering or leaving the port. The airport was also shut down for a few hours in the afternoon. President Bruno Magras visited the port at 8:00 am and told the fishermen that he would discuss the issue after they opened the port. After an unsuccessful attempt at negotiation at the port, some of the fisherman went to the airport around 10:30 am and blocked the entrance to the departure lounge and the check-in counters. At 1:30 pm, President Magras agreed to organize a meeting with the Executive Council, which took place at 3:00 pm. The port was reopened a little after 5:00 pm, at the conclusion of the meeting, results of which are not yet known.

Many fishermen purchase their gas at St Martin because it is much cheaper. However, it is illegal and dangerous to transport it to St Barth. The fishermen are requesting that the Collectivity sell them gas at the same price that it is sold to professional fishermen in Guadeloupe: 0.82 euros per liter. They are asking why they should be the only French fishermen who pay the tax on gasoline. The fishermen also claim that they were told that when the fuel pump reopened at the port, their gas would be tax-free. However, the new pumps opened on December 4, with no reduction in the price of gas. If the Collectivity agrees to reduce the price of gas for the professional fishermen, they will pay 1.07 euros per liter as compared to the 1.26 euros per liter that they currently pay. That cost is what the Collectivity pays when they buy the gas: 1.1542 euros per liter minus a tax of 0.08 euros per liter. President Magras was quite displeased with the wildcat strike, wishing instead that the fishermen had talked to him first. He also mentioned that they do not pay income taxes here and that the Collectivity provides them a fish market in Gustavia free of charge.

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