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

    Comment number 26.


    Spot on.

    Spain was still using force under Franco in defending Cueta. Maybe it's time to discuss arms supply to Morocco to help their fight to end colonial rule in North Africa!

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    this whole thing is just a smokescreen by the lame duck Spanish government to distract from the fact they have been caught with their hands in the till. best way to garner cheap popularity? stir up or take advantage of some kind of sovereignty conflict as a distraction - worked well for Thatcher...

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    Time for military action against the Spanish. Tactical military strikes to start and if still impinging on Gibraltar then send in ground troops.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    Oh. So the Spanish leadership, much like the Argentinian, is continuing to embarrass itself.

    I imagine that all intelligent Spanish citizens are offended by their government's attempts at distracting them from genuine issues like unemployment.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    I cannot see the Spanish Government making life easier for a Non EU state (eg UK) - wonder if Gib will claim Independence from UK and then try to gain membership of the EU.
    They probably would if they trusted the Spaniards to stay out, same goes for the Falklands, They pay for and govern themselves, defence is the only thing left they get in exchange for the Antarctic and a port.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    Come on Hague, you are always quick enough to want to invade every area of conflict in the middle east how about proposing a military solution for resolving the Spanish problem.

    At least as an individual I can boycott Spanish produce and companies, Santander/Abbey, Seat cars, fresh produce and wine.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    @10. Absolutely right. Surely the Spanish arguement is hypocritical as Spain has 2 territories the size of Gibraltar in Morocco. I've never heard that on BBC news either. Typical left wing BBC agenda. Gibraltar is British and its time Cameron got a grip of the situation instead of letting the Spanish go unchecked in British territory, making us look like a joke.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    Gibraltar only has 12km of coastline. Why the hell are the Spanish getting so worked up about it? They've got huge areas of coastline where they can fish without upsetting anybody.
    It's almost as if they're using this as a distraction for their failed economy & are trying to drum up a bit of nationalism...

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    Correct me if i´m wrong, but weren´t these concrete blocks dropped on or around the 25th July, when Spain was reeling from the appalling train crash near Santiago de Compostela? Could someone in the Gibraltarian government have cynically identified this as `a good day to bury bad news`? Murky waters indeed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    Given this reef is practically on shore, right next to the end of the runway and adjacent to the harbour entrance I have real problems believing any edible fish could be caught here at all.

    Incidentally Britain got Gibraltar as part of a complex peace deal (treaty of Utrecht) which ended the war of Spanish succession. Does this mean Spain fancies another go at the French crown?

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    Like people, some countries simply never grow up.

    A wounded pride, gifted from one generation to the next like a predisposition to cancer, trumps reason and democratic values every time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Fortunately, both the UK and Spain are in the EU, when tends to a keep a lid on the levels to which this kind of escalation can rise to. If the UK were to leave the EU, then we might find that things got a lot trickier, with the UK on one side, and Spain (and the EU) on the other.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    The Spanish fishermen are upset by a man made reef that is next to the airport and the opening to Gibraltar Harbour!

    This is damaging Spanish fishing trade!


  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    and Cueta isn't the same because?

    C'mon Spain it's not as if we haven't noticed you have an enclave on the opposite shore, you know the shore that Morocco owns!

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    The Spanish have every right to look after their interests and fisherman's interests, Gibraltar was the one who threw concrete blocks into the sea. By the way rmw Gibraltar is not certainly is not as British as The Isle of Wight!

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    Your map would be more informative if you showed the border between Gibraltar and Spain.

    Not that it makes much difference to childish posturing. Best bet is to ignore such antics, not give them credibility by responding in any way.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    Perhaps Spain should also had over sovereignty of Ceuta.......

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Maybe its time for an import ban on Spanish goods and a voluntary cessation of holidays in Spain. It might also be time to stop Spanish fishermen from fishing in the north sea or on the continental shelf on our west coast. Britain should also veto any bailouts of the Spanish economy. Who needs them?

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    What Spanish fishermen have monetarily temporarily lost due to this reef is a tiny tiny microscopic fraction in comparison to that which UK fishermen have lost in UK waters which allows Spanish fishermen/trawlers to fish in UK waters as part of EU fishing policy/regulations.

    It is pure Spanish political gerrymandering, obnoxious border actions harm more Spanish financially than lost fishing

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    May as well get used to borer controls, if and when the UK pulls out of the
    EU then there will have to be a new treaty regarding the border of Gib and Spain, I cannot see the Spanish Government making life easier for a Non EU state (eg UK) - wonder if Gib will claim Independence from UK and then try to gain membership of the EU. All speculation in the mean time the Arab Spring continue


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