Fuel, Fury and Free Fish
Europe's Fishermen Launch Strike Wave
Fisherman across Europe refused to sail their boats on Friday in protest at rising fuel prices. Tens of thousands of Spanish fishermen gathered in Madrid to demand government action -- and to hand out tons of free fish.
Fishermen across Europe refused to go out to sea on Friday in protest at mounting fuel prices. The biggest fishing strike was in Spain and Portugal, with trawlers and boats blocking ports. More than 10,000 demonstrators converged on the Spanish capital Madrid where fisherman even handed out free fish during the protests. They were making a symbolic gesture, saying that the combination of low prices for fish and rising fuel prices, means fishermen are practically giving away their catches.
A raucous protest outside the Spanish Agriculture Ministry had fishermen from Spain, France and Portugal blowing whistles and chanting slogans. Spain's fishermen launched their action on Friday to demand that their government bring down the price of fuel, give them tax breaks and restrict cheaper imports of fish.
The fish handout in Madrid attracted dozens of people, mostly retirees, who pushed and shoved each other to get at the 20 tons of free hake.
Cepesca, the Spanish fishing confederation, says that fuel prices have soared by 320 percent in five years and claim that many fishermen can no longer afford to take out their boats.
There were also protests in Brussels, where fishery sector representatives were meeting for strategy talks on Friday. And in Italy, 12,000 fishermen joined the strike. French fishermen have been protesting for more than two weeks at the fuel crisis, sometimes blocking oil terminals and ports and disrupting shipping.
It is not just the fishing community that has been hit by the fuel price surge. Truckers, taxi drivers and farmers have also been hurting and many have launched protests at the threats to their livelihoods in recent weeks.