Police use pepper spray in tense incident with Spanish fishermen
The Royal Gibraltar Police has confirmed that incapacitant spray was used on a Spanish fisherman in response to his ‘aggressive behaviour’ during the course of an incident at sea yesterday morning.
The incident unfolded at around 8am in the area of Europa Point when an RGP marine crew responded to a request for assistance from the Department of the Environment.
According to an RGP statement, its crew was called to assist the environmental vessel whose instructions to the Spanish fishing vessel, illegally fishing in British Gibraltar Waters, were being ignored.
The statement read: “The RGP confirms that incapacitant spray was used on one of the crewmen in response to his aggressive behaviour, which quickly desisted, and executive action was taken.”
“Once he calmed down and the situation was de-escalated the three-man crew were reported for process.”
The incident was reported on in the Spanish media and video footage of the Spanish fishing vessel flanked by the RGP Marine crew and environmental vessel circulated over social media.
For its part the Gibraltar Government described the incident as “regretful”.
It added that there appears to be a marked increase in illegal fishing in recent days.
This, it said, may suggest that these instances of illegality are being “specifically designed by political forces from outside of Gibraltar in order to provoke unnecessary incidents that might prevent a more positive political engagement developing between Spain and Gibraltar”.
In a statement the Government underscored that the Department of the Environment and the RGP were responding to illegal fishing in BGTW in keeping with established procedures.
“Both agencies appear to have been confronted by aggressive and insulting behaviour on the part of those illegally fishing.”
“The relevant fishermen have been reported and will be processed accordingly.”
The Government added: “This is another incident which serves to highlight the risks and abuse that our law enforcement agents face on a daily basis in seaborne operations in BGTW.”
In response to the incident the Convent said: “We are aware that there was an incident in BGTW this morning involving a Spanish fishing vessel and three Guardia Civil boats.”
“The Environment Agency and the Royal Gibraltar Police responded to this incident in accordance with standard procedures.”
“The Royal Navy challenges all unlawful maritime incursions into British Gibraltar Territorial Waters (BGTW).”
“We back this up by making formal diplomatic protests to the Spanish government The incident was discussed at this morning’s Gibraltar Contingency Council meeting”.