Two weeks after the fuel protest started fleets to set sail againA breakthrough was finally reached in the fuel crisis yesterday in Palma with nine of the island's ten fishing fleets deciding to end their dispute and put to sea again tomorrow, two weeks after grounding their trawlers and launching their fuel protest which brought the island to a halt in the middle of last week, with most of the 120 petrol stations being forced to close as they ran out of fuel. The secretary of the federation of Balearic Fishing Fleets, Manuel Sanchez, said yesterday that the majority of the Majorcan fishing sector yesterday voted in favour of accepting the government's offer of freezing further increases in fuel. Yesterday morning crisis talks were called in Palma with representatives from the fleets in Alcudia, Pollensa, Portocolom, Colonia de Sant Jordi, Andratx, Santanyí and Cala Rajada accepting the deal reached by the National Federation while Portocristo voted in support by fax and Soller finally backed the proposal because of the majority support despite its opposition to the deal. The only fleet to have rejected the offer was the Palma fleet which orchestrated the fuel depot blockades and threatened to block the Port of Palma, before being forced to reconsider their actions, or face 20 million peseta fines, by central government delegate Catalina Cirer. The Palma fleet intends to canvass its members in a bid to decide what action to take next, but their bargaining power has been seriously diminished as the Minorcan and Ibizan fishing fleets have also accepted central government's offer. However, by tomorrow morning a decision from the Palma fleet is expected to have been received and government sources are confident that the Palma fleet will fall in behind their colleagues as the protests have cost fishermen a great deal of money in lost income. Majorca's fishing fleets have been moored up for the past 13 days and fresh fish stocks at the local markets and supermarkets all but disappeared. During the first few days of the dispute, Palma and Alcudia fishmongers were forced to bring out their reserve stocks, but ten days ago many were forced to starts importing fish from the mainland in order to meet demand. Fortunately, protesting local fishermen, unlike their mainland colleagues, permitted imported fish stocks to be sold - in other autonomous communities demonstrators were checking lorries for fuel and fish imports and turning those discovered away. Overall, the past two weeks of protests have done little to gather public support, despite gimmicks of giving away fresh fish in Palma and Soller, the chaos caused by the fuel blockades annoyed most of the general public as many saw the protests as the last straw after a summer of problems ranging from strikes to power cuts and water shortages.
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