'They were shouting, waving and threatening us,' Martin Jones, skipper of the Pilot Star, based at Newlyn, Cornwall, said. 'They grappled and cut our gear and it was very frightening.'
Last night the Fishery Protection vessel HMS Anglesey was sent to the area in the Bay of Biscay by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.
David Harris, Conservative MP for St Ives, said that the attack on the English vessels was 'deplorable'.
Spanish fishermen have protested that English boats are using oversize nets in violation of European Union regulations. Last week they blockaded the port of Santander and forced the Brittany Ferries passenger boat Val de Loire to turn round and sail to Roscoff in northern France.