rock of contention

Spain investigating claims that Gibraltar has further blocked bay

Government delegate says fishermen’s nets are getting “caught where they never used to” Civil Guard divers examine reef to check size of concrete blocks

The Spanish Civil Guard on Friday released footage of some of the 70 concrete blocks sunk by Gibraltar in the waters of Algeciras Bay last month. The blocks, which were laid to prevent Spanish fishermen from working in the area, have caused an escalation in the simmering tensions between Spain and Britain over the territory.

The video shows a diver from the special GEAS unit approaching one of the perforated blocks, which sport metal hooks that tear apart fishermen’s nets. The diver takes out a measuring tape and measures the block, which appears to be about one cubic meter in size.

The Civil Guard is also investigating claims by fishermen from La Línea de la Concepción and Algeciras that the administration of Fabian Picardo has sunk more blocks in other areas of the bay that Gibraltar claims as its territorial waters but that Spain does not recognize as such.

The government delegate in Andalusia, Carmen Crespo, has confirmed the beginning of an investigation into claims that the fishing nets “are now getting caught where they never used to get caught before.”

Brussels received a formal complaint over this issue from Spain’s agriculture minister, Miguel Arias Cañete, on July 31.

An EU mission is due to arrive in Gibraltar next month to analyze claims of wrongdoing by both Spain and Britain, which has recently complained about increased border checks by Spanish law enforcement officials that effectively slow down traffic to and from the Rock.

These events come on top of the ongoing row over fishing. In late March 2012, Gibraltar decided to break its 1999 agreement with the fishing sector and began preventing Spanish fishermen from casting their nets in what it claims to be its waters.

By virtue of the Utrecht Treaty of 1713 that ceded the territory to Britain, Spain only recognizes the entrance to the port area as the Rock’s sovereign territory.


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