Spanish Fishermen Maintain Port Blockade
ALGECIRAS, Spain (AP) _ Spanish fishermen maintained a weeklong blockade of four major southern ports on Wednesday to protest Morocco’s decision to increase fines for illegal fishing in its waters, a government official said.
They used their fishing craft to close the ports of Algeciras, Puerto de Santa Maria, Almeria and Alicante, forcing a deep cut in ferry service and stranding a total of 3,500 people on both sides of the Strait of Gibraltar, said Alfonso Garrido, central government representative in Andalusia region.
He said the protest has led to clashes between police and fishermen and to food and medicine shortages in Spain’s North African enclave of Ceuta. Garrido said it also caused a shortage of fish and a steep increase in fish prices in southern Spain as well as financial losses to ship owners.
The blockade began last Thursday after Morocco announced it was increasing maximum fines to more than $150,000 for infractions of fishing regulations outlined in its 1988-92 fishing accord with the European Economic Community.
The fishermen also oppose the accord’s obligatory one-month-a-year ban on fishing to prevent overfishing of Moroccan waters.
An EEC commission agreed Wednesday to meet to discuss the issue.