Fishermen in France, Italy, Portugal and Spain have called for an unlimited strike from Wednesday to protest against the rapid rise in fuel costs. They are demanding a reduction in the price of marine diesel so their trawlers can return to sea. One French fisherman said the strike is gaining widespread support: “The Spanish are with us and the Belgians are with us. We’re waiting for all the fishermen to be mobilised. And now we’re also waiting for the other professions,” he said.
Trawler owners claim they will go bust without government subsidies. The dispute has already paralysed many ports and fuel depots in France, and road and sea routes to some refineries have been blocked leading to petrol shortages.
Commercial fishermen in the Spanish region of Catalonia have begun their strike today and sources say it could spread in the coming days.
Their collegaues in Italy and Portugal are to join the strike action this week.
A Portuguese trawler owner said: “the crews are leaving because they don’t earn enough. Even if the boat earns 5,000 euros in a week, after paying all expenses there’s nothing left,” he said.
The European fishermen are demanding discounted diesel at 40 euro-cents per litre, half the 80 euro-cents they pay now.
Besides their demands for financial aid, the fishermen want better controls on fish imports into the EU that are depressing prices. The skyrocketing fuel prices are expected to spark similar protests from farmers and truckers in Europe.