Thursday, 3rd May 2012
Who keeps the piece?
by F Oliva
Chief Minister Fabian Picardo continues to lead the Government’s efforts to avoid a repetition of the ugly scenes experienced in 1999 when Spanish fishermen blockaded the land frontier after the fishing row blew up with the arrest of the Piraña vessel.
Keeping the peace and averting a fully fledged confrontation at sea with incalculably damaging consequences for Gibraltar’s public interest must be the Government’s overriding concern, regardless of the pressure exerted by a handful of vociferous and unrepresentative environmental and political fundamentalists primarily through the toxic sewers of the social networks.
The decision therefore, to procure EU funds to compensate the Algeciras and La Linea fleets for their non-fishing in Gibraltar waters and thus contain the conflict within a manageable, negotiated framework is by far preferable to the escalation of the current conflict. The Chief Minister must continue to show leadership and a broad pragmatic vision on this sensitive issue that reflects the realities of our political climate both domestic and in its cross-border dimension. As an aside it is worth commenting that commercial fishing is a wholly legitimate economic activity (that affects 60 Spaniards and a few Gibraltarians) however much some who foam at the mouth with totalitarian intentions, wish to demonise and criminalise something which is a long established practice the world over.
However, it must also be said that it is questionable whether a blanket indiscriminate and indefinite prohibition of all types of fishing with nets in local waters is the best way to proceed in this crisis. It is also unclear how long for the EU would be prepared – if at all – to financially compensate the non-fishing by La Linea and Algeciras fishermen in Gibraltar.
It is not clear either whether the EU funds exist to compensate home fishing fleets in member states only or whether this extends to the fishing fleets of other member states which fish in the waters of third countries. Also, the timescale, eligibility and conditions attached in the provision of this type of financial assistance. No doubt we will be hearing much more about this in the days and weeks to come.
The reality of this ‘fishy’ affair is that the environmental aspects are a mere smokescreen while the substantial points being contested are those of ownership of the waters and what has been intended all along has been the certification of these as British symbolically and politically and Gibraltarian for all other practical intents and purposes.
In a parallel non-political context, if there is valid concern about dwindling fish stocks in the area, we should do like every other country does and implement fisheries management options such as seasonal restrictions on fishing, minimum fish sizes and quotas, regulations which are commonly applied in the civilized world.
In other words a comprehensive fishing agreement that would be in the interests of all parties to uphold, to ensure the regular and natural replenishment of fish stocks in Gibraltar waters for the general benefit of communities on both sides.
However a total, draconian ban which would probably have consequences on the availability of fresh fish in local markets is excessive, contrary to the public interest and simply done to satisfy the prejudices of a handful of environmental activists who resent the lawful exploitation of the sea for economic gain and pander to those who would blast a Spanish boat (fishing or otherwise) on sight if it dared creep one millimetre into local waters.
There are some people who do not know the meaning of the term and would not recognise an ancient Athenian if they stumbled upon one. The crass attempt at misrepresentation published in this newspaper (Letters to the Editor April 18th) and in the toxic sewers of Facebook which included sections in italics purporting to be direct quotes from my previous article on the subject ‘Tackling Diplomacy’, intended to convey the false impression that such lines e.g. “marine life does not matter” and “Gibraltarians have no demand for the protection of marine life”, were contained in it. Of course this was just a feverish fantasy, a malicious pastiche of misquotes and distortions of the original text, designed to incite antipathy or worse against the author. In other words a collection of outrageous untruths attributed to me which bear little or no resemblance to my text, mischievously concocted by the alleged signatory of the letter, who then proceeded to refute his own fabrications in singularly unmeritorious fashion. It amounted to an example of crude misinformation that a third rate Stalinist would have been less than proud of, but there again I would not go as far as saying that such fatuous manipulation is in any way beneath the perpetrator(s). Any discerning reader would have seen right through its transparent worthlessness.
May Day Epistle
It has become a recurring occurrence that in periods of recession, leftwing Cassandras should come out of hibernation to augur the impending demise of capitalism. Unite’s ideologically driven trade unionism underpinned by exaltation of the Haymarket Martyrs – who incidentally were claiming a 40 hour week! – and doctrinaire May Day proclamations regarding non-existent class antagonism and conflict in Gibraltar, are just a puerile throwback to the pre-parity days and to the ‘glory’ of unreconstructed communism which despite them allegedly being in the throes of regeneration, is not a million miles away from the positions defended by the previous leader. What the new leadership hope to achieve with such tedious slogans is not clear, but plummeting membership figures will hardly be boosted by the resuscitation of intellectually bankrupt Marxist tenets of social fracture between workers and business, worthy of the leader writer in Granma, but which are wholly irrelevant to the Rock’s socio-economic reality.
With the onset of summer upon us, it is ironic that Messrs Ochello and Netto should be demanding an act of contrition from the GSD when they had been basking in their sunshine, one which they conceded had been brimming with “very good deals for workers,” until barely five months ago. It seems that the transition to warmer rays can have a bedazzling effect and they would be well advised to wear a good sun block to protect themselves from the scorching heat…
Mrs Thatcher, probably Europe’s strongest and most effective post war political leader is sorely missed these days. None more so than by the British public powerlessly witnessing the decline of their nation, once a leading world player being devoured by the irresistible advance of political correctness, by a corrupt political class, and by mediocre leaders presiding over soaring crime and violence rates, and a public transport and health system slowly deteriorating to third world standards. Mrs Thatcher comes very much to mind these days as unions take to the streets. As she once famously said, “the problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” Food for thought.
Black Day for Justice
The recent three year sentence handed down at the Supreme Court to a despicable local paedophile is an affront to common sense and an affront to justice. How out of touch with society and the feelings of normal people can the people who take these decisions be? Unfortunately, although the new Crimes Bill contemplated tougher sentences for paedophiles, this has not yet been commenced thus the soft outcome to the case.
While it is understandable that there should be mitigating circumstances such as ill health and age of the defendant when passing sentence for most crimes, paedophilia is such an abhorrent criminal act against the most defenceless members of society, that there should be no leniency whatsoever shown to perpetrators. Quite the contrary.
In fact Gibraltar as a jurisdiction should be sending the strongest signal not just to home-grown sexual abusers of children but also to the outside world, that this is a no- go area for such type of scum and that they venture into our midst at their peril. For such heinous crimes nothing short of a life sentence, meaning no less than 40 years prison should suffice. Society is fully entitled to take these monsters out of circulation to protect itself from their foul actions.
As usual it is my wish that this column not be followed on Facebook or Twitter. Unfortunately my devoted followers have other ideas…