Belgian fishermen have been protesting directly to the EU
Fuel protests triggered by rising oil prices have spread to more countries across Europe, with thousands of fishermen on strike.
Union leaders said Portugal’s entire coastal fleet stayed in port on Friday, while in Spain, 7,000 fishermen held protests at the agriculture ministry.
French fishermen have been protesting for weeks, with Belgian and Italian colleagues also involved.
UK and Dutch lorry drivers held similar protests earlier this week.
The strike reflects anger at the rising cost of fuel, with oil prices above $130 (83.40 euros; £65.80) a barrel.
Trade unions say the cost of diesel has become prohibitively high, after rising 300% over the past five years.
Wholesale fish prices, meanwhile, have been static for 20 years.
Fishermen’s leaders from France, Spain and Italy have been meeting in Paris to co-ordinate strikes and protests over the next three weeks in the run-up to a European Union fisheries ministers’ meeting.
The protesters are calling for direct immediate aid for the fisheries industry, coupled with increased subsidies.
The European Commission said in a statement it was willing to show flexibility towards the industry but it has ruled out subsidies to offset rising fuel costs.
Short-term aid packages were acceptable as long as they were used to address structural deficiencies in the fleets, it said.
‘Ruin for fishermen’
Several thousand fishermen marched on the agriculture ministry in Madrid, where they handed out 20 tonnes of fresh fish to members of the public in an attempt to draw attention to their ailing industry.
Many blew whistles and klaxons, and let off firecrackers producing red smoke.
The BBC’s Steve Kingstone at the protest said he could see flags from Catalonia, the Basque country and Galicia.
Read moreEurope fuel protests spread wider