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 146.

    Frank, in 1501, Gib, after being owned by Conversos, went back to the Spanish Crown. It was "given" to "Britain" by the Utrecht Treaty in 1713--only 6 years after the so-called Act of Union--32 years BEFORE the Jacobite Rising under the Stuarts, when Scots (& Irish) showed they still didn't want to be "British." Scots rioted when Union act passed. When Gib was grabbed, Britain didn't really exist.

  • rate this

    Comment number 145.

    Everytime a company makes profits in the UK and then registers itself for tax purposes in Gib, that's income tax that our government does not see, so that's why there's a library/casualty dept/police station closing near you. 'We are all in this together' except of course if you happen to live in one of those little overseas territories, that act as tax haven and VAT free zone.

  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    Why doesn't the royal navy stop Spanish fishermen in British waters and hold them to " prevent smuggling"

  • rate this

    Comment number 143.

    This has nothing to do with fishing, its Spains political powers trying to distract its citizens from the serious economic problems they are having, and bullying on a minority in their country as they do it... disgusting

  • rate this

    Comment number 142.

    98...that's really not called for.

    If they want an enclave give them Scotland.Another country soon to be broke

  • rate this

    Comment number 141.

    UK government needs to step up. The UK should veto any future EU aid to Spain until Spain denounces their claim to Gibraltar.

  • rate this

    Comment number 140.


    That's not correct at all Tony. I am one such Gibraltarian, and I hope I don't get accused of poor English. There are of course those who are quintessentially Spanish, but there's a more even split than you suggest. In any event, I can't see the relevance, even if they speak Spanish they are British subjects and are perfectly entitled to retain that. And that's the point.

  • rate this

    Comment number 139.

    Time for Spain to investigate all homes in Spanish soil owned by Suspected Gibraltar tax cheats. If guilty demolish the houses and seek criminal charges.

  • rate this

    Comment number 138.
    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 that is one of many reasons Scotland wont find it as easy as they assume to join the EU if there's a yes vote

  • rate this

    Comment number 137.

    Time to hand back Gibraltar back to their natural owners - Spain.
    Thankfully, your rather squalid opinion is irrelevant to the decision making process.

    Resolution 1514 of the UN Gen Assembly gives that power to the Gibraltarians themsleves. As long as they express a wish to be British, then the World must abide by that wish.

    Spain is a bully and Britain has always hated bullies.

  • rate this

    Comment number 136.

    And yet they still expect us to help bail them out of their economic woes...

  • rate this

    Comment number 135.


    "some Scots are sick of remaining a colony"

    Is that some form of joke or do you genuinely believe that Scotland is an English colony?

  • rate this

    Comment number 134.

    Strategically a very important location. Politically a warm spot rapidly becoming a hot spot. Historically, Spain, remember the Armada, 1588? Economically, will be an enormous expense for an already struggling Spanish economy.

    Leave well alone, Madrid. Take note of your mates in The Argentine and how they lost a claim!

    The sooner we chuck this bankrupt nation out of the EU, the better!

  • rate this

    Comment number 133.

    121.Bill Walker

    ... The Med is a huge sea with 2 tiny exits, the Suez canal and the Straits of Gibraltar. Whoever controls the Rock controls the sea lane from Asia through Suez to northern Europe. Rather handy in the event of war
    That's an argument for keeping it, but not for it being a tax haven. Most defend it as they see it as us Brits against foreigners, no thinking involved.

  • rate this

    Comment number 132.

    ...I wonder what they expected to find?

  • rate this

    Comment number 131.

    Sending police down there with flags to wave and go on social media is pretty pathetic as is claiming that 70 concrete blocks (presumably with a total length of less than 100M) is causing irreparable damage to Spanish fishing.

    They would get a lot more respect if they stuck to the facts instead of infantile game playing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 130.

    "Rather handy in the event of war."
    That's right, and that's why absolutely nothing is going to cange any time soon.
    Also those on the Rock will never vote to give up citizenship. They have it ten times better than Brits on mainland UK. Most of them think they've died and gone to heaven.

  • rate this

    Comment number 129.

    It has not gone past me that the "incident" happened after the RN Cougar 13 Fleet has left Gibraltar.

    Had they tried this little escapade whilst the fleet was Docked, I could imagine there would be no nice little picture on U Tube, just a dark stain in the water with a few sharks circling for breakfast.

    Rioja with that Mr Jaws?

  • rate this

    Comment number 128.

    At 116 Your absolutely right in what you said. I notice that when a Gibraltarian is interviewed on Brit TV they only seem to show British looking people, in actual fact most Gib people have Spanish surnames and speak English quite poorly.

  • rate this

    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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