Spain's fisheries department agreed Thursday to a 60 percent increase in fuel subsidies to fisherman who have been blockading major Mediterranean ports for four days. The accord came after nearly 20 hours of talks at the agriculture ministry in Madrid.
Agriculture Minister Elena Espinosa signed a deal with fishing committees agreeing to pay a subsidy of Ђ0.09 (US$0.11) per liter of diesel, up from the Ђ0.06 (US$0.07) they currently receive.
The agreement would bring the net price of diesel for the fishermen down to about Ђ0.40 a liter (US$1.83 a gallon) from Ђ0.50 a liter (US$2.29 a gallon). The fishing groups had sought a price of Ђ0.30 (US$1.37 per gallon).
Since late Sunday, fishing boats had sealed off the Mediterranean ports of Barcelona, Tarragona, Murcia, Castellon, Valencia, Almeria and Alicante while fish workers on land blocked access to markets in each of the towns. Others ports in northern Spain, including Bilbao and Pasajes, were also paralyzed.
The strike had seriously disrupted ferry and cargo traffic. Fish markets stocks had also begun to suffer, the leading daily El Pais said.
The fishermen's strike follows a similar protest by the nation's truck drivers over the high cost of diesel fuel. That strike ended with an agreement to lower fuel taxes paid by the truckers, the AP reports. A.M.