OAXACA, Mexico (AFP)–Tens of thousands of fishermen kept their boats in ports on Mexico’s Atlantic and Pacific coasts Tuesday in a growing protest against fuel prices that have risen 25% in one year.
“Approximately 45,000 of Mexico’s 350,000 fishermen are technically unemployed,” said Rafael Ruiz, president of the Canainpesca national fishing industry body which launched the protests Jan. 2.
Negotiations with the government started Tuesday, Ruiz said, warning that Mexico’s seafood importers, including the U.S., Spain and Italy, could be affected by the protests.
At the current price of marine diesel at 7.33 pesos ($0.54) a liter, compared with MXN5.03 one year ago, boats are running at a loss, Ruiz said. The fishermen sought an increase in government subsidies from MXN2 a liter to MXN4.5 a liter, he added.
The Mexican Agriculture Ministry, which hasn’t yet commented on the fishermen’s protests, announced a record budget for the industry for 2009 of MXN3.6 billion, almost double the previous year.
Mexico’s fishing sector had a turnover of MXN13 billion ($960 million) in 2007, according to official figures.