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 86.

    @77. It's the own fault there's a British territory in southern Spain. They should have been a more powerful country in the past. Instead of a stupid joke. There's no foreign enclaves in Britain because we were the most powerful country in the world during the era when the enclaves came into being.

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    The trains from Brussels to southern Spain must be slower than ours, as the "Fact finding" EU mission hasn't got there yet. They're probably working on their final report before actually going. Something on the lines of "The Spanish claim the waters, Gibraltar claims the waters. We don't want to get involved, and urge all parties to work it out" Belgian chocolate teapots.

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    2 facts the Spanish have conveniently "forgotten":
    a) The Spanish are NOT allowed to legally fish in the area where the concrete blocks have been dropped:
    b) In Andalucia alone the Spanish have made artificial reefs at 25 sites:

  • Comment number 83.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    65jac. " I vote lets just give the Isle of Sheppy to Spain"
    Having been to Gib and having lived on Sheppey, I think we'd get the better end of the deal.

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    give Spain a little bit of the UK, just a few square-miles. The Isle of Sheppy is ideal. Then they can sell 20 cigarettes for £3 or rather €3 and Cava at €1 a bottle
    Pointless hyperbole, this exists wherever a border has different tax regime on each side, when Ireland went to the Euro is an example NI people crossed the border for cheap goods, for the UK its called Calais.

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    All this stuff and nonsense is easily sorted. Send a couple of marines to gib to enforce our border. One interesting point for all you "out out Out" campaigners if we leave the EU then Spain can have a field day with the border as it will then be a legitimate border leading out of the EU. Instead of constantly holidaying DC should be over there sorting this out thats what we pay him for isnt it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    Its a little too obvious what the Spanish Government are up to, any time you need to deflect attention from your failures or lack of growth its always good to stir up xenophobic hatred. If the Spanish want to play hardball we should respond with all the tools in our locker, travel, bailout money and trade. If the EU wont act we should.

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    Can't we give Spain an enclave off the British coast. It would be rather fun to go shopping for cheap wine , olives Serrano ham etc. with a bit of flamenco thrown in . It would also help the area adjacent with increased trade and be a useful place to go on a dismal winters afternoon.

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    Granted this Spanish government is playing up the tensions to distract attention from their corruption scandals. Granted that the Spanish have Ceuta and Mellila, which makes them look hypocritical. That still doesn't mean that a British enclave in southern Spain is something just. Ask yourself what your attitude would be if there were a Spanish enclave in Ramsgate or Weymouth?

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    Negogiate what exactly? Do I assume you mean they should set aside what the people of the contested area want to give the 'mine mine' crowd their way?

    This is all about Spain's problems and a few people hoping to distract attention away from their own issues. It's pity the Spanish police aided them - but them maybe they weren't given any choice.

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    Gibraltarians have been living there happily for 300 years and doing no harm to Spain whatsoever. This is not about Spain v Britain or Gibralta, it's policitians v politicians on both sides. The rest of the people of both countries watch their antics and think "oh for pity's sake"! Since the dawn of man humans have moved around the globe. None of us are from our original starting point!

  • Comment number 74.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    Tactical missile strikes now against Spain with economic sanctions as well. Bring them to their knees.

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    I suppose Spain's historical claim to these waters is because they were within swimming distance of Mussolini's frogmen based in La Linea with Franco's blessing in order to plant limpet mines on British ships in WW2, the clearance of which got Lionel "Buster" Crabbe a George medal.

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    Those of you defending Gibraltar might like to think about what it is you're defending? It's a rock, a somewhat crowded rock. It's not known for it's vast crop of spuds or bananas because it doesn't have such. No, it produces nowt, - it's a tax haven. That's right, people and corporations base themselves there to avoid paying taxes in places like GB. That's what you're defending. HTH.

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    Stevey, I am addressing the colonies of Ceuta and Melilla, they are located in Morocco and Spain refuses to give them back.

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    As a well travelled British national, I am of the opinion that Britain should realise that the colonial rule days are over, the British Empire has collapsed. Just because Gibraltar settlers are of British descent does not make the Rock British! Same with the Falklands and numerous other overseas territories. Give it up Britain, the glory days are over!

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    @51: I'm not sure that the 27% ethnic Brits (presumably those descendants of colonists you're referring to) demographic entirely explains the 99% rejection of shared sovereignty in the latest referendum on the matter.

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    #63 Why don't you start by learning some history. Britain has ended up with Gibraltar as a result of incredibly complex 17th century war called the war of Spanish succession. That last 7 years spanned 3 continents & primarily boiled down to the Spanish King claiming the French throne as well as his own/ 'We' didn't create the mess at all but we helped end 7 years of war.


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