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Brief stand-off at sea as environment officers challenge Spanish boat fishing tuna

Photos by Johnny Bugeja.

A Spanish pleasure vessel fishing for tuna off Europa Point caused a brief standoff at sea on Wednesday evening after its crew called the Guardia Civil when challenged by the Department of the Environment.

The tuna season closed at the weekend but the crew on the Spanish vessel told environment officers they were fishing on a catch-and-release basis, a spokesperson for No.6 Convent Place told the Chronicle.

As per protocol, the EPRU informed Windmill Hill station, who reported the incident to the Royal Navy Gibraltar Squadron.

“A vessel from the Environmental Protection and Research Unit shadowed the fishing vessel to ensure catch and release and to avoid escalation,” the spokesperson said.

“The EPRU took the fishing vessel’s details to report them for process, the spokesperson said.”

But the fishing vessel notified the Guardia Civil, prompting the EPRU to request the attendance of HM Customs for backup.

A Royal Navy rigid-hulled inflatable boat also monitored the developments from a distance.

In the end, the incident was defused and on arrival of the Guardia Civil vessel, the fishing vessel cut their lines and both departed British waters, the No.6 spokesperson said.

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