Gibraltar has complained about an “unlawful” action by a Civil Guard patrol boat that stopped a Gibraltarian sports fishing boat and took both occupants to Algeciras last Friday.
“The time for action is here,” said the executive of Fabian Picardo to demand that Britain step in with the Royal Navy to defend them.
The British state secretary for Europe, David Lidington, said in a note published on the website of the Foreign Office that "I am shocked by the disgraceful behavior of the Spanish Guardia Civil who detained two Gibraltarian British Nationals in British jurisdiction and transferred them to Spain. The Government will be making it clear to Spain that such action, on the part of the law enforcement agencies of an EU Partner and NATO Ally, is intolerable and unlawful.”
According to the British version of events, the two occupants of the sports fishing boat were detained at 11.30pm around 200 meters off the coast of Gibraltar, in what The Rock considers to be its territorial waters, and later released without charges at 2am. Some of their equipment was confiscated.
The Civil Guard said what they did was just like “giving someone a traffic ticket,” while the mayor of Algeciras, José Ignacio Landaluce, added that the Gibraltarian boat was fishing bluefin tuna, which is prohibited by EU legislation because it is an endangered species.
The executive of Fabian Picardo said this event is unrelated to the ongoing fishing conflict between Spain and Gibraltar, which is prohibiting Spanish fishermen from fishing in the area, alleging their activities are banned by the EU as well.
Gibraltar’s sovereignty is disputed by Spain, which ceded the overseas territory to England in 1713 under the Treaty of Utrecht.