Local fishermen have threatened to renew the blockade today.


The Majorcan fishing fleet blockaded the island for five hours yesterday morning while their colleagues in Minorca and Ibiza refused to put to sea yesterday in protest over the rising fuel prices in Spain. For most of the morning neither merchant nor passenger shipping could enter of leave the port of Palma and Alcudia forcing some 850 ferry passengers to sit out lengthy delays. Palma was blocked by a 25-strong fleet of fishing trawlers between 5am and 10.15 at which point fishermen agreed to end the blockade in exchange for talks with the local government. Passengers bound for Palma on board a ferry from Valencia bobbed about in high seas for three hours. The ferry should have docked at 6am, but was not allowed in to port until 9am. Another ferry from Valencia and one from Barcelona with 350 passengers on board were also forced to wait out at sea. Balearic Chief Minister Francesc Antich said yesterday that he fully understands the fishing fleet's argument and has promised to step up the pressure on Madrid for fuel concessions in the Balearics. Antich also told representatives for the fleet that he approves of the idea to set up a regional fuel distribution co-operative which will bring prices down. Spokesperson for the fishing fleet, Josep Blanca, said yesterday afternoon that Antich will back their campaign for cheaper fuel and an end to the distribution monopoly in Madrid. But Blanco would not rule out further protests. In accordance with the farmers and truck drivers, who demonstrated through Palma on Tuesday, he said that the fishing fleet is waiting to see what action is taken by central government in Madrid. Vicente Grau, a spokesman for the Palma fishermen's association, said 100 boats including about 80 at sea lifted the blockade once local authorities agreed to discuss their demands. Fishing industry workers also stopped the catch from getting to market in southwestern Huelva on the Atlantic Coast and in Valencia.