By James Bryce
A DIPLOMATIC row has broken out over the decision to ban Spanish fishing boats from Gibraltarian waters.
The Gibraltar Government is enforcing the ban after accusing fishermen of using illegal nets and fishing methods, which breach the 1991 Nature Protection Act.
The ban is being enforced within a three-mile radius of the Rock, where previously the boats were allowed to come within 225 metres of the shore, subject to certain restrictions.
The Spanish Government has complained to the British Embassy, while Chief Minister Fabian Picardo has held talks with Algeciras mayor Jose Ignacio Landaluce to discuss the issue.
Picardo has made Gibraltar’s position clear on the controversy, saying: “Nobody can come here to fish, French, Spaniard, German or otherwise, in breach of our laws.”
His Spanish counterpart Landaluce had earlier joined a flotilla of Spanish boats on a ‘protest sail’ into Gibraltar waters after complaining that the ban breached the 1991 agreement.
The mayor, who claims to be protecting the livelihoods of 300 fishermen, said: “I do not understand the attitude being taken by the Gibraltar Government.
“But it will not be allowed that our fishermen are ejected from the Spanish waters that surround the Rock.”