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 106.

    #58 ShatnersBasoon:

    "let's give them the Republic of Ireland....."

    Nooooooo!!! They'll ruin the whiskey.

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    Storm in a teacup! Lets move on please.

  • Comment number 104.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    Here's some useful info about the rock, which you might like to ponder:

    "As of 2012, Gibraltar has 0.103 Big Four accounting firm offices per 1,000 population, the second highest in the world after the British Virgin Islands, and 0.6 banks per 1,000 people, the fifth most banks per capita in the world."

    I'm sure the banks and accounting firms are grateful for your defense of their tax haven.

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    94.Jesús A Bermúdez-Silva

    Err, how so?

    Looking at the above map it is not in spanish waters and appears to do what it claims - provide an area for sea life to regenerate. Its hardly a large enough area to decimate legal fishing and if it is particularly rich in sea life then it is right to protect it for the health of the wider area. So how is it provocative?

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    Why is anyone interested in this? It's a tiny bit of rock with very little value but we still have to join with Spain in sabre-rattling. It really is a bit childish, isn't it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    I am Catalan and I know that you, feel at this moment. BBC says that Britain rules Gibraltar since 1713 and we lost our independence as a country on September 11, 1714. We try now to recover it but we know we will get many problems from the Spanish gouvernment. They believe they are the owners of the earth.

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    94. Jesús A Bermúdez-Silva - You ever think that this action and attitude that the Spanish Government has more to do with deflecting mass unemployment and massive economic problems rather than any territorial claims? This is having a negative impact on many Spaniards who travel and work in Gibralter, PS you Government also have broken rules on Healthcare asking Brits to pay for services. Racist.

  • rate this

    Comment number 98.

    @78 I agree with the enclave idea off the British coast - let's give them the Republic of Ireland.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    Maybe if Spain paid as much attention to their economy as they do to Gibraltar, they might not have been close to a financial meltdown.

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    Mr. Cameron is always bleating on about tax dodgers - time to investigate those in Gibraltar if it claims it is somehow part of Britain.
    If it wasn't for the Gibraltar people contributing to this discussion page, it would hardly get noticed and all would be in favour of handing this spit of land back to its rightful owners - Spain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    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!
    So on what basis should you decide who owns a place if not the people? China has as much claim to the land in Gibraltar as anyone else and Spain belongs to the moors

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    Well it is provocation to place that reef. So if you provoke others, expect a reaction from them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    I have just been told that Ed Miliband was saying he thinks we should hand back Gibraltar to the Spanish, has anyone else heard this?

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    77 Wahring: Gibraltar is not 'an enclave'. It is not in Spain. It is at the southern tip of the Iberian peninsular. By your logic Portugal must be an enclave in the west of Spain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    @ 51.MidwayBattle

    Yours is the rhetoric of tyrants. A specious characterisation deployed precisely to deny certain unalienable rights; in this case, the right to self-determination.

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    79, yeah you are quite right even the buffoons at Westminister use this tactic, & far more often than the average bloke realises! just think of the stupid insignificant issues this bunch of clowns & their predecessors inflicted upon us instead of tackling the REAL issues! Silly, Little people trying to find solutions to the problems they themselves created in the first place TOTALLY USELESS!

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    The way the Spanish are behaving shows that, like Argentina, they have not yet learnt what democracy really means. We should be patient with them because they clearly need at least a couple more generations for the concept to sink in. In the meantime, Gibraltarians are right to be very wary.

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    Nuke Madrid. Problem sorted.

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    How about we have a looksee across the water to see how this latest sabre rattleing incident is being received in Argentina?

    Could there possibly be the remotest chance of a connection between the two?

    I can't see how the Spanish could determine the effects of the reef on their fishing in such a short length of time.


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