Fears of resumption of clashes with Spain over net fishing in Gibraltar bay
Spanish fishermen expressed perplexity at the announcement by the Gibraltar Government that it will not be granting permission for commercial fishing with nets to be carried out in Gibraltar waters. The controversy has caused several incidents in the bay between the Spanish Guardia Civil and Gibraltar Royal Police and there are fears of a resumption of the conflict.
Speaking to the Gibraltar Chronicle, fishermen’s representative Pedro Maza (FAAPE) conceded that he was “in a state of shock” and was highly critical of the findings of the technical report, accusing the Gibraltar commission of consisting of “environmentalists” and arguing that there was not “anyone with knowledge about fishing”.
Following several clashes in the Gibraltar bay involving the Guardia Civil and the RGP, both sides agreed to name a commission to address the issue of net fishing.
Maza said that the British expert Mrs Lutchman “does not have a clue about this matter” and that the authors of the report had twisted the information and data provided by the Spanish scientist.
“They have taken advantage of our good intentions as the weakest link in all of this, but above all, they have taken advantage the goodwill of Ignacio Sobrino” the Spanish oceanographer who provided the local commission with scientific advice, he declared.
The Spanish spokesman also categorically rejected that there had been any misunderstanding on their part about what had been agreed with Chief Minister Fabian Picardo at their meeting earlier this month.
“I have all the evidence that we have not misinterpreted anything and I would just ask Mr Picardo that when he sits down with me next time, that there is respect. It is astonishing that we should have been discussing a series of issues only to find now that everything has been changed”
“If there is any light at the end of the tunnel we will keep working to get there,” he declared.
As regards the effects of the decision, Maza said the situation will now get much worse and vowed that the fishing vessels will return to Gibraltar waters “whatever the consequences”.
But he said that despite the major setback they had suffered he would continue to support an understanding that could lead to a solution “for the benefit of the people of Gibraltar and the Campo area”.
Maza said the Chief Minister was “using everything to defend his interests” something which he understood, underlining that CM Picardo was doing “a very good job in that respect”.
The fishermen’s representative described him as “a gentleman” and declared that although he did not share his decision, he “did not hold any grudges against him”. However whatever problem ensues from this point forward “will not have been of my or the fishermen’s making”.
Mayor of La Linea Gemma Araujo said the decision by the Gibraltar Government had come as a shock and stated that there was some expectation that the preliminary report would lead to an understanding between the two sides in the fishing conflict.
Mrs. Araujo said the report was not yet definitive but that it was “a disappointment” nonetheless. She called for negotiations to continue given the importance of the fishing sector for La Linea and reiterated her call for good cross-border relations with Gibraltar.