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 266.

    Just had some Spanish doctor friends over for a short summer break. They were livid that their government finds time to play silly buggers over a lost cause of [Gibraltar]. They also see the similarities [when times are politically bad] between Spain and Argentina's politicians crass and transparent attempts to divert public attention away from their far more serious socio-economic problems.

  • rate this

    Comment number 265.

    For all those posting that Britain should stop acting as a colonial power, you could not be further from the truth. Britain is defending the democratic right of a small beleaguered population, who have overwhelmingly stated, through the ballot box, that they wish to remain as they are, and not become a colony of their neighbourhood bully; Spain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 264.

    It's mine! No it's not it's mine! Mine. Mine.......... Grow up children!

  • rate this

    Comment number 263.

    Pathetic political pandering to the masses, worthy of the equally moronic Argentinean government.

  • rate this

    Comment number 262.

    The Spanish claims might bear more weight if they weren't so eager to hold onto Ceuta and Melilla.

  • rate this

    Comment number 261.

    DrRatters: apart from the fact that people cannot go as they wish even between the UK and the rest of the EU because the UK is not part of the border-free area of the EU, the police of one EU country cannot enter the territory of another and start operating there. For the French police to operate in Folkestone there is an Anglo-French treaty. No such treaty exists between UK and Spain re Gib.

  • rate this

    Comment number 260.

    During WWII Gibraltar fought in defence of the UK, while in 1940 neutral (HAH!) Spain signed the protocol of Hendaya with Germany part of this brought also brought them into alliance with Italy, this was a political and military agreement leading to cooperation between Spanish Italian and German security services, to even consider betraying Gibraltar is vile.

  • rate this

    Comment number 259.

    I thought the Rock of Gibraltar was a logo for an insurance company!

  • rate this

    Comment number 258.

    Challenger, your post is devoid of facts....hardly surprising.

    Fact, the UK does want to leave the EU...good, please go ASAP.

    Your taxes will of course increase as you now have to shoulder the burden of caring for the elderly who return home to the UK.

    See you in Yemen for your vacation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 257.

    I love Spain but they are behaving like children here. proximity does not equate to ownership.. get over it 300 years

  • rate this

    Comment number 256.

    What a headache the British are YET AGAIN in Spain
    What a foolish comment.

    The people of Gibraltar can do whatever they like inside their territorial waters to keep out the Spanish fishing boats.

    Do you have a fence round your garden? A lock on your front door?

    If your aim is to simply troll this thread with inanity, at least educate yourself first.

  • rate this

    Comment number 255.

    Perhaps another solution for this situation is for the Spanish to cede more land and sea territory to Gibraltar allowing it nationhood?

    Also, I'm surprised there is much industrial fishing in an area which has many war graves in it!

  • rate this

    Comment number 254.

    Since when did concrete blocks make good reef material ? A sunken ship yes so QED that is not the purpose of the blocks, but to stop Spanish fishing access.

  • rate this

    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

    Comment number 252.

    What a headache the British are YET AGAIN in Spain ! Why don't you resettle these Gibraltar born refugees on the new man made island in the Thames Estuary where the new Airport is planned at least the can be put to good use there. From a military point of view Spain nor Europe doesn't need any Military surveillance or interference from the UK either in that part of the world.

  • rate this

    Comment number 251.

    Shylock, your comments are puerile. How do you think they contribute to the debate in any way?

    Spain has no leg to stand on - it has its own 'gibraltars' on the coast of Morocco! It doesn't seem in any rush to hand them back.

    Spain is playing a very politically naive game, and the world is laughing at them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 250.

    So what about the various foreign territories/colonies occupied by Spain? Is Spain offering to release them from Spanish, I thought not...

  • rate this

    Comment number 249.

    Pip of London: the British Isles are not only shared between the UK (Great Britain and Northern Ireland) and Ireland (Eire), they also include the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. British Isles is a purely geographical and historical term and one best avoided in discussion of sovereign territories.
    JW: Gibraltar has never been 'united' with today's Spain so how can it be 're-united' with it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 248.

    Frank 240 - big belly laugh...and you know sunken ships make excellent reefs - sealife thrives on them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 247.

    The British do NOT occupy Gibraltar, the vast majority of the people are not of British stock they are from Arabic and Spanish stock but want to be a British territory and that should be the end of the argument, apart from that Spain is always only about 2 weeks away from a return to the days of Franco and their economy is in the toilet.


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