More than 300 migrants arrived in Spain’s Canary Islands in two boats early on Monday, bringing to over 1,600 the number of people to reach the islands since Friday, emergency services said.

One boat carrying 229 migrants was escorted to El Hierro island while another with 85 on board was brought in to Tenerife.

Of the boats that arrived over the weekend, one on Saturday was carrying 320 migrants.

The state news agency EFE said it was the largest number in a single boat since human traffickers began to regularly use the Canary Island route in 1994. The previous record of 280 was recorded earlier this month.

Spain Migrants
Children are carried ashore from a small boat (Europa Press via AP)

Most of the boats arrived at El Hierro, which has received several thousand migrants in recent weeks. The Canary Islands are located off the north-west coast of Africa.

Most of the migrants come from sub-Saharan African countries and the majority of the boats depart from Senegal.

Migrants arriving by boat in Spain spend up to 72 hours in police custody, for identification, then are moved into various reception or detention centres depending on their cases.

Although some are deported, most apply for asylum and are taken to mainland Spain for their cases to be studied.

In the end, many are freed and ordered to leave Spain if they do not get asylum.

Spain’s Interior Ministry said nearly 23,500 migrants reached the Canary Islands by boat between January 1 and October 15 – a 90% increase from the same period last year.