Staff Reporter
THE “fish war” in Majorca, which has left fishmongers without any locally-caught fresh fish since before Easter, shows no signs of abating.
The dispute is centred around a barrier which prevents wholesalers from entering the fish exchange before the auction to inspect the quality and quantity of the fish. The wholesalers are refusing to buy until it is removed; the fishermen, for their part, said they are tired of selling fish for a pittance only to see it fetch five times as much in the markets.

In the meantime, the fishermen have been selling direct to the public from the exchange, a practice which the wholesalers say is illegal and unhygienic, and which they are trying to stop.

Yesterday, Balearic agriculture and fisheries minister Margalida Moner gave her backing to the fishermen, saying it was “a purely financial matter,” and it was “not a direct problem of the government.” However, she confirmed that she will be having a meeting today with Miguel Angel Calviño, the director general of fisheries, and experts from his department, to draw up proposals which both sides might “find logical.” Some of the proposals will centre on finance, while others will deal with how the fish auction works.
She said that the buyers should not fix the price before the fish is put up for auction, and the fishermen should have sufficient freedom to auction their product as it should be done. She said that she was sure that a solution would be found over the next few days and added that she was ready to intervene if the wholesalers and the fishermen failed to agree. And although she is at the disposal of the two sides, she said she will be on the side of the fishermen “to find an agreement which will be beneficial to the two sides, if possible.” The restaurant sector yesterday called for an immediate solution to the conflict, saying it was causing difficulties.
A spokesman said that they want to be able to buy from their regular wholesale and retail suppliers, rather than having to go to the fish exchange.
The wholesalers yesterday submitted their demands to OPMallorcamar, which runs the auction. They are removal of the barrier so that they can see the catch which is to be auctioned, a halt to direct sales to the public, and for OPMallorcamar to stop buying for itself at the auction.

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