by Staff Reporter
THE fish war between local fishermen and wholesale fish buyers shows no signs of going away, and the former now say that any fish not sold at the next auction at the exchange on Tuesday will be available to retailers and the general public in the afternoon.

Yesterday the fishermen were complaining that by the time the fish reaches the markets and fish shops, the price has been multiplied tenfold.
They claim that this is the real reason behind the conflict, which has left the markets without fresh Majorcan fish over the Easter holiday. The fishing boats will not be putting to sea again until Monday.

Complaining about the prices, spokesmen for the fishermen José Bonnin and Vicente Gil claimed that red mullet sold at the fish exchange at 0.50 euros per kilo appeared in the market at five euros. As to shrimps, a kilo which fetched barely 20 euros at the exchange, cost 60 euros at the markets.

The conflict started early on Tuesday morning, when the buyers objected to barriers which prevented them gaining access to where the boxes of fish due to be auctioned are stored.

Angry words led to blows and the police had to be called in to restore order. The following day, the buyers boycotted the auction.
But Bonnin and Gil claim that this is “only an excuse not to buy our catches and to continue controlling prices. It isn't logical that we should have to sell the fish at one price while in the markets the consumers have to pay up to ten times as much; we have serious problems in keeping the fleet running and it's not fair.” As a result, any fish that is not sold at the exchanges in the early morning auction on Tuesday, will be on sale to retailers and individuals not only in Palma but also in Soller and Andratx. “Anyone will be able to buy in the afternoon,” the two representatives said. They added that it did not make sense for them to throw away the fish the wholesalers did not want.

On Maundy Thursday, the fishermen distributed nearly three tons of fish free of charge among pensioners' homes. And they will continue to do so if the conflict continues. “We are opposed to throwing fish away; we are not going to allow it from now on,” Bonnin and Gil said.
They claim that on the day the conflict started, they sold 17 tons of fish in the Palma exchange and “many wholesalers came at the last minute to buy the fish they hadn't wanted in the morning.” Most of the fish went to hoteliers, restaurateurs and Barcelona.
They also said that by denying the wholesalers access to the area where the fish is stored for the acution they were only complying with Euruopean regulations. “The barrier is only an excuse; the wholesalers want to control the price,” they maintained.

The wholesalers, for their part, have decided not to buy fish at the Palma exchange for an indefinite period. Instead, they are buying from the Peninsula.

At all events, a spokesman said that only 28 per cent of the fish consumed on the island is caught locally, and that if they currently bring in 72 per cent of fresh fish from elsewhere, increasing this amount will be no problem.

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