Venice, November 16 - Hundreds of commercial boats dropped anchor in front of St Mark's Cathedral Friday to protest proposed city tariffs and what demonstrators called unfavorable shipping conditions. From tiny tug boats and narrow delivery ships to big construction barges and trawlers, vessels lined up at the heart of the lagoon as workers called on the government to reverse a planned tax on their industry. In addition to an annual fee on parking boats inside the city, the measure would make leaving a shipping vessel unattended a finable offence. Protesters say they would be targeted even if the pilot steps out momentarily to make a delivery. Banners denounced "the chronic cost increase to services" in Venice, which requires a daily fleet of boats to make deliveries down the Grand Canal and its tributaries in order to connect the island city, where cars are banned, to the mainland. They also called for the city to organize traffic along a "chaotic" network of navigable canals, few of which, they say, are reserved for shipping.
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di Giovanni Pastore