Gibraltar criticises Spanish police dive

 
Rock of Gibraltar and Spanish fishing boat Spanish fishermen have protested over an artificial reef which they say is damaging their interests

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Gibraltar has strongly criticised Spanish police for sending divers to inspect an artificial reef in waters claimed by the British territory.

Governor Sir Adrian Johns said the action constituted a serious violation of UK sovereignty over Gibraltar.

He said it was particularly unhelpful in the light of the current row over fishing rights which has led to strict border checks and long car queues.

Spain says the reef is damaging its fishing industry.

Measuring tape

Last month, the government of Gibraltar dropped 74 concrete blocks onto the sea bed to create an artificial reef designed to reinvigorate marine life.

Pictures show Guardia Civil divers examining the blocks with measuring tape.

The divers took Spanish flags with them then posed for underwater photos, which were later shared on Twitter.

The Gibraltar government has defended its right to erect the reef, and accused Spain of "making a serious incursion into British Gibraltar Territorial Waters" and adding to existing tensions.

The government in Madrid disputes Gibraltar's ownership of the waters off its coast, and accuses its neighbour of deliberately damaging the Spanish fishing trade.

An offer from Gibraltar's chief minister to allow 59 local Spanish fishermen to return to the area had been made before the images of the police divers emerged.

'Serious incursion'

The Gibraltar government said in a statement: "Her Majesty's Government of Gibraltar notes the incident of executive action taken by the Guardia Civil in British Gibraltar Territorial Waters in the area of the new artificial reef.

"The matter of this serious incursion will not assist in de-escalating the present tensions."

The European Commission is to send a fact-finding mission to Gibraltar to investigate controls at the border.

It follows tensions between Spain and the UK over extra border checks on the Spanish side which have caused lengthy traffic delays.

Britain says the checks break EU free movement rules but Spain says Gibraltar has not controlled smuggling.

Royal Navy warship HMS Westminster docked in Gibraltar last week in what the British government said was a long-planned deployment of a number of vessels to the Mediterranean and the Gulf.

Spain disputes UK sovereignty over Gibraltar, a limestone outcrop near the southern tip of the Iberian peninsula, which has been ruled by Britain since 1713.

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  • rate this
    -10

    Comment number 253.

    Since it is the EU, doesn't that mean divers from both Spain and UK can go where they wish without permission of other states? This whole thing is turning into a facade. The EU was created to keep peace in Europe and not cause a fight over a piece of rock.

  • rate this
    -4

    Comment number 243.

    Personally I think Gibraltar should be reunited with Spain but whilst 99% of the population, most of whom have lived there for generations, say they want to keep the status quo I think that their wishes take precedence. Maybe if Spain tried wooing them rather than annoying them they might have a bit more success.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 234.

    Spain objects to Britain having Gibralter, whilst itself owning two colonies in Morocco (Ceuta & Melilla).
    Let's resolve this diplomatically & peacefully without resorting to racist stereotypes & jingoism. I don't want to see either one Britain/Gibraltarian or Spaniard hurt in all this.

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 204.

    Hello all wake up and smell the coffee this is not the first time this has happened I was there in 1966 when they did this our response we placed a naval bording party in a high speed launch and approached the nearest spanish naval ship, (there was more than one) too which they upped and left simple really just show them you mean buisness after all these are british citizens NOT an unknown entity

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 127.

    Mutual deflection of attention of both the UK and Spain away from its own internal problems. Self-determination seems a good one to hold onto. In which case, may we raise the issue of Catalonia, on the Iberian Penisular, which seems eager to break away, and then there's the embarrassing issue of Ceuta and Mellila on the African coast that execises Morocco. For the UK, Wales, and Scotland, too.

 

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