Residents on the small Italian island of Lampedusa have prevented a boat carrying 116 immigrants from landing.
Each time the vessel, thought to have come from Tunisia, tried to come ashore the demonstrators blocked it.
Italian officials say since mid-January nearly 10,000 immigrants – more than last year’s total – have made the 110-kilometre journey. Lampedusa lies closer to the African coast than to Sicily.
The Libyan conflict has brought fears of a further exodus.
The island’s mayor says more boats have been spotted and has warned of a possible shortage of drinking water.
Some 3000 immigrants are housed in a centre designed to take 850.
Arrivals are shipped to the Italian mainland, but the boats keep coming, causing tension on the island and between Rome and the EU.