Thursday, 20th September 2012
Fishing conflict: Spain will continue to ‘guarantee fishing’ in Gib waters - Dominguez
by F Oliva
As the Gibraltar Government’s ban on Campo commercial fleets continues Spain’s General Secretary for Fisheries Carlos Dominguez has declared that they will guarantee the activities of the fishing vessels “adopting measures which are proportionate to the impediments posed by the Gibraltar authorities.”
At the conclusion of the high-powered inter-ministerial meeting in Madrid on Wednesday evening to discuss the continuing conflict, Sr Dominquez praised the attitude of the Campo fishing sector which he said, had shown “patience and a conciliatory spirit in a process of dialogue which has often been frustrating.”
He further declared that during the ongoing row, there had been occasions when “the Gibraltar police has acted in a manner which has put the fishermen at grave risk” but conceded that in recent times tension at sea had decreased.
In a statement Sr Dominguez declared that Spain will restate its sovereignty over Gibraltar’s waters and continue to guarantee “the fishing activities of our vessels with the protection of the Guardia Civil.”
He also confirmed that the Madrid Government will declare a Special Area of Conservation in the European Commission designated Site of Community Importance, in the area known as Estrecho Oriental which overlaps into British waters, adopting a whole raft of conservation measures to protect the environment.
Sr Dominguez said Spain will continue to uphold the validity of the Treaty of Utrecht which does not cede any waters around the Rock to Britain, while reaffirming “Spanish sovereignty over those same waters.”
The meeting was attended by representatives of the Ministries for the Interior, Defence, Foreign Affairs and the Environment, alongside the fishing cofradias and owner associations and the mayors of Algeciras and La Linea, Jose Ignacio Landaluce and Gemma Araujo respectively, plus Fisheries Department representatives from the Junta de Andalucia.
In relation to the scheduled Magistrates Court appearance on Friday by the skipper of the ‘Divina Providencia’ Francisco Gomez, Sr Dominguez said the Spanish Government does not recognise the application of Gibraltarian laws “in waters subject to Spanish sovereignty, nor the competence or jurisdiction of Gibraltarian law courts to judge acts committed in these waters.”
“The Government therefore will use adequate means to prevent attempts to sanction a Spanish national for acts which are perfectly legal in Spain,” he added.
For his part Pedro Maza, the spokesman of the Andalucian fishing associations (FAAPE) declared that the fishing conflict has “nothing to do with fishing or with the environment” and blamed the Gibraltar Government for the crisis.
“I don’t know what they want or what they are tying to do,” he declared. He also welcomed the presence of the Guardia Civil to afford protection to the fishing fleet and reiterated the sector’s rejection of any talk about “fishing licences” from Gibraltar.
As regards the Divina Providencia skipper, Sr Maza said this was a personal decision but stated that FAAPE would provide him with legal backing if required.