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Guardia Civil severs fishing lines in BGTW

Photo by David Parodyhttp://www.dotcom.gi/photos/

Two local pleasure boats had their fishing lines cut by a Guardia Civil vessel in British Gibraltar territorial waters on Thursday evening.

In the first incident at around 6pm, a local pleasure vessel fishing Bluefin tuna was approached by the Spanish patrol boat off the east side of the Rock, within the three-mile limit of British waters.

The Spanish vessel, which had already been read sovereignty warnings by the Royal Navy, ordered the occupants of the local vessel to stop.

The Royal Gibraltar Police had already been contacted and when the two locals refused to stop, the Guardia Civil vessel swerved across their stern before moving off.

“It cut the two lines we had in the sea,” the sports fisherman, who is licensed to fish tuna in Gibraltar waters, told the Chronicle. “Each of those lures is worth anything from £50 to £80.”

A short while later the same Spanish vessel cut across the stern of another local boat, once again severing fishing lines.

A spokeswoman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said the British Government would lodge a diplomatic protest with the Spanish government

CEUTA INCIDENT

In a separate development, the Royal Gibraltar Police has reacted to criticism of its response to an incident on Tuesday in which three local men were arrested by the Guardia Civil outside British waters.

One man is still in detention in Ceuta and faces trial on August 30, accused of dangerous navigation.

The RGP said its officers have no jurisdiction beyond three miles but that on this occasion, because of the number of calls it received, its crew ventured into international waters.

However they were unable to make contact with the local boat before it was detained by the Guardia Civil.

The RGP said it will continue to exercise jurisdiction within British waters review its operational response together with other maritime agencies.

But it added: RGP vessels will only venture onto international waters when involved in a search and rescue operation or in response to a credible threat to life.”

It said seafarers should sail with the required personal and vessel documentation, safety equipment and means of communication.

“Seafarers should contact maritime local authorities immediately should they be the subject of interference by external law enforcement whilst within BGTW,” the RGP added.

“Seafarers are further advised not to engage in any manoeuvres which may endanger themselves or others and to navigate safely at all times.”

“Engaging in evasive manoeuvres may lead to escalation and increasing danger.”

In the next few days the RGP will be seeking to meet representative associations of boat owners and fishermen to offer reassurance.