A diplomatic row has broken out over the decision to ban Spanish fishing boats from Gibraltarian waters.
Spanish fishermen are In breach of the 1991 Nature Protection Act according to The Gibraltar Government who are accusing them of using illegal fishing nets and method.
A ban on fishing within a three mile radius is being enforced. Previously fishing boats were allowed within 225 metres of the shore. However there were some restrictions regarding this.
The Gibraltar Federation of Sea Anglers last week issued a statement expressing the view that there can be no return to what they term as “the infamous and illegal” Fishing Agreement of 1999. they called on the Government “to hold firm in their decision to rescind the agreement.”
“Tearing up this agreement has enabled the law enforcement agencies to apply the Nature Protection Act 1991 fully without exceptions.”
The GFSA completely support for the Government over this issue. They said, “It is unacceptable that anyone is able to come to your country and abuse its laws by claiming that they have been exempted from them.
“Would the Spanish Government reciprocate by exempting Gibraltarians from a requirement to hold fishing licenses, enabling them to fish anywhere in Spain including within their marine reserves and to target protected species whilst their own people had to abide by their marine protection and fisheries laws? GFSA very much doubts this.
The Spanish Government has complained to the British Embassy, while Chief Minister Fabian Picardo has held talks with Algeciras mayor Jose Ignacio Landaluce to discuss the issue.
Picardo has made Gibraltar’s position clear on the controversy, saying: “Nobody can come here to fish, French, Spaniard, German or otherwise, in breach of our laws.”
His Spanish counterpart Landaluce had earlier joined a flotilla of Spanish boats on a ‘protest sail’ into Gibraltar waters after complaining that the ban breached the 1991 agreement.
The mayor, who claims to be protecting the livelihoods of 300 fishermen, said: “I do not understand the attitude being taken by the Gibraltar Government.
“But it will not be allowed that our fishermen are ejected from the Spanish waters that surround the Rock.”