UK Impact

‘Spanish trawlers illegally fish British waters EVERY DAY’ – investigation claims

SPANISH trawlers fish illegally in British waters EVERY DAY – with some fishermen saying they do so just to annoy Britain, it was claimed today.

The Spanish vessels sail into British territorial waters around Gibraltar in clear breach of international law.Now furious Gibraltarians are demanding more Government action.

An investigation by ex-pat Spanish newspaper The Olive Press claimed that one repeat offender vessel entered Gibraltarian waters at least seven times in October alone.

According to the 1958 Geneva Convention on the Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone, which sets international precedent, this Spanish activity is forbidden.


An investigation has claimed that Spanish trawlers fish illegally in British waters every day

Gibraltarian waters need to be protected

Michael Sanchez, former RGP policeman

The three miles of sea belt around Gibraltar remain under British sovereignty and therefore it is highly illegal for Spanish vessels to fish in the waters.Spain itself possesses a more than ample 4,964km coastline of its own and individuals working in the Gibraltarian fishing industry believe fishing vessels are purely attempting to antagonise local fishermen.

Michael Sanchez, a former RGP policeman who now monitors the movements of ships in Gibraltarian waters said: “What I fear the most is that one of our boats says you can’t fish here and things get heated and people could get injured.”

Any confrontation could then lead to heightened political tension between the two territories.

Infamously, Spanish authorities arrested three fishermen in July 2016 which led to mass protests on the Rock after they were wrongly accused of fishing in Spanish waters.

One offending trawler was allegedly spotted fishing on October 4, 5, 9, 11, 17, 19 and 24 off Eastside, but also at Western Mole but many other Spanish vessels have also been spotted operating illegally in Gibraltarian waters in October, including the Nuevo Leon.


Furious Gibraltarians are demanding more Government action

A member of the Gibraltarian yachting industry who did not wish to be named: “Spain refuses to take her claim that Gibraltar has no territorial waters to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.“She prefers to use the Law of Force instead of the Force of Law.

“This has led to very dangerous situations at sea.”

The illegal floating nets used Spanish boats can damage Gibraltarian fishing vessels and also animal’s habitats, while Spanish boats do not follow Gibraltarian fishing quotas that ensure fishing practice remains sustainable.

The yachting industry member said: “Gibraltar has strict environmental enforcement.


Spanish trawlers sail into British territorial waters around Gibraltar, an investigation claims

“Protection of species can only be good for everyone from both sides of the border including commercial operators who are in danger of wiping out the source of their long-term welfare.”Illegal Spanish fishing in Gibraltar is directly contributing to the continued depletion of endangered species, such as the white grouper and the European eel.

As a result there is anger on the Rock that the Government is not doing enough to halt these Spanish incursions.

Tommy Finlayson, who monitors shipping activity in Gibraltar, tweeted: “Spanish fishing boat re-enters Gibraltar waters to retrieve illegal nets placed early this morning. Why no environmental law enforcement?”

Much of the fury stems from Gibraltarian fishermen being fined or prosecuted for fishing illegally while the perception is that their Spanish counterparts get away with a slap on the wrist.

Mr Sanchez said: “The most I have seen officially is that they go up to the boat and told him to leave – Gibraltarian waters need to be protected.

“He will then just turn away and come back.

Gibraltar GETTY

One repeat offender vessel entered Gibraltarian waters seven times in October alone, reports claim

“Why should Gibraltarian fishermen go to court for fishing illegally, when this guy is allowed to do what he wants, despite his fishing methods being so destructive?”The Government spokesman said and they said they were doing all they could and added: “The Department of the Environment’s Environmental Protection Unit regularly challenges persons who are breaking the Nature Protection Act regardless of nationality.

“Spanish commercial fishing vessels are regularly challenged when in our waters, with a number of cases currently being processed.

“We cannot catch everyone who breaks our environmental laws every time they break them regardless of their nationality and some, regrettably get away with it.”

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