About 2,000 fishermen and their families were out on the streets of Barbate to express their anger at an EU decision to scrap a fishing accord with Morocco.
The town in southern Spain has a population of around 20,000 and is economically dependent on fishing.
The EU has refused to pay for the annual 36 million euro licence, meaning the Spanish fishermen are banned from Moroccan waters.
Francisco Javier Perez said the situation was tough even before the deal was cancelled: “We are already losing the fishing industry. If we lose it completely, we may as well turn out the lights and leave because there are no other jobs.”
President of the Fish Wives Association, Patricia Gonzalez, said many families depend on money from the fishing industry: “What’s going to happen now? We all have mortgages. Almost all of our families have only the husband’s salary. They have cut us down with an axe.”
The EU claims the former agreement led to excessive exploitation of fish stocks and failed to benefit the population of Western Sahara, a former colony of Spain annexed by Morocco, where most of the fishing took place.