By Humphrey Carter

PALMA'S fishing fleet is adamant that it will try and continue fishing and will not join the protests over rising fuel prices which have paralysed a large number of European fishing ports over the past two days.

This is currently the busiest time of year for local fishermen and the President of the Balearic Federation of Fishermen, Joan Canaves, said yesterday that many of his members do not want to miss out on the most lucrative part of the season.

34 local trawlers took part in Friday's strike and remained in port but, for the time being, no more industrial action will be taken.
However, unless European and Spanish action is taken to address the problems being caused by spiraling fuel prices, he is not ruling out industrial action towards the end of the summer. That said, consumers were surprised to find Palma's main fish market, La Lonja, closed yesterday.

The market decided not to open as a sign of solidarity with the fishermen taking industrial action in the rest of Spain.
An estimated 11 tons of fish went unsold but only about 22 percent of the fish sold in Majorca is caught locally.
Canaves said that the Balearic fleet will go about its business as usual in the hope that central government agrees to offering fishermen compensation to cover their loses caused by the rising fuel prices. He said that, in the short to medium term, the aid packages approved by the Balearic government and the Council of Majorca on Friday will serve to ease the burden, but in the long term, far greater levels of compensation are going to have to be made available by Madrid to prevent some fishermen from being forced out of business.

Rising fuel prices have already pushed up the price of fish and sea food in some markets and if local fishermen are forced to reduce their operations and leave port only a few days per week, consumer associations fear that the price of fish will rise further over the summer.

Consumers are already complaining about the sharp increase in the cost of living and food prices over the past six months and, until fuel prices start to decline, the cost of basic food stuffs are going to continue rising over the coming months.