EU calls Britain and Spain to cooperate on nature protection issues in Gibraltar waters
The European Commission has again urged Britain and Spain to cooperate on nature protection issues in Gibraltar waters, according to press reports in Spain. The reports cited anonymous Brussels officials saying the Commission had asked both countries to work to that end.
Despite protests from the UK and Gibraltar, Brussels has allowed Spain to designate an EU nature site in Gibraltar waters even though it has no jurisdiction. Part of that site overlaps an existing British conservation site. For the Commission, that places legal obligations on both countries. The issue was first raised last June.
Janez Potocnik, the EU Environment Commissioner, said Britain and Spain must find a practical way of managing their respective sites in Gibraltar waters.
The Gibraltar Government reacted to that statement by saying that it was based on the false premise that the waters around Gibraltar are anything other than exclusively British Gibraltar Territorial Waters.
It said it would raise the matter immediately with the European Commission, though it was not clear if that had happened and with what result.
Meanwhile the Spanish Government believes the court summons issued to the captain of the Spanish fishing boat Divina Providencia “has no validity”, according to a Saturday report by the Europa Press new agency.
The report cited anonymous diplomatic sources in Spain as saying that the alleged offence had been committed in “Spanish waters” and that Gibraltar’s courts had no jurisdiction.
They also said that under a 2000 agreement, any communication between judicial authorities in Gibraltar and Spain should be via the British Government in London.
The summons was handed to the captain of the Divina Providencia in Gibraltar waters by the Royal Gibraltar Police. Among other claims, the summons contains an allegation of breaches of local conservation laws.