13 Apr, 2014 @ 11:00
1 min read

Spanish ships enter British waters more than 600 times in 18 months


SPANISH boats have strayed into British waters around Gibraltar more than 600 times since the beginning of 2013.

There were 496 unlawful incursions in 2013 and have already been 112 in just the first three months of 2014, according to figures released by the British Foreign Secretary William Hague.

The worst month overall was August last year, during which 68 Spanish vessels entered British waters – at a an average rate of more than 2 per day.

A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “The Royal Navy challenges Guardia Civil and other Spanish state vessels whenever they make unlawful maritime incursions into British Gibraltar territorial waters.

“We back this up by making formal diplomatic protests to the Spanish Government about all unlawful incursions. Our challenges and protests make clear that such incursions are an unacceptable violation of British sovereignty.

“We are confident of UK sovereignty over British Gibraltar territorial waters under international law. We make our position clear to the Spanish Government whenever appropriate and we will continue to uphold British sovereignty and use a range of proportionate naval, police and diplomatic responses to incidents,” he added.

As reported by the Olive Press, the Spanish Ambassador, Federico Trillo, was summoned to the Foreign Office earlier this month, after an incursion led to a collision with a Royal Gibraltar Police vessel: https://theolivepress.es/spain-news/2014/04/02/spanish-ambassador-summoned-to-foreign-office-after-dangerous-incursion-by-ship-into-gibraltar-waters/

It was the fourth time Trillo has been summoned to the Foreign Office for problems with Gibraltar since December 2011, when the current government took office in Madrid.

This latest revelation is yet another episode in the long-running friction between Britain and Spain over The Rock.

Imogen Calderwood

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  1. The UK and Spain have both signed UNCLOS. Under UNCLOS Gibraltar, like everywhere else on the planet earth has territorial waters. IF Spain wants to ‘delimit’ Gibraltar’s territorial waters under ‘historic title’ then Spain HAS to take the matter to arbitration – either the PCA or the ICJ. The ICJ has already ruled that territorial waters cannot be delimited unilaterally. Spain would also have to ‘explain why it is necessary for ANY delimitation to take place.’

  2. @BritBob

    There you go again. You know very well that Gibraltar is considered by the UN a British colony that the UK must decolonise. This means that Gibraltar is not a State or even part of State that would otherwise have a right to territorial waters. Hence the reason for the euphemistically labelled ‘straying’by Spanish State vessels into those waters.

    I think it’s time for the British government and its colonists in Gibraltar to accept the reality that Spain has never accepted jurisdiction over UK unilaterally declared ‘British Gibraltar territorial waters’.

    Spain does not consider any of the so called ‘incursions’ as illegal. In this regard, you might have noticed that every time British authorities challenge Spain State vessels in those waters the reply is always the same. Spain does not accept that those authorities have any jurisdiction in those waters – and simply ignore those authorities.

    For those who may be having problems understanding this – Spain will continue to completely ignore all attempts by the UK to enforce jurisdiction over those waters.

    If the Gibraltarians have a problem with this then perhaps they should suggest to the British colonial overlords that the UK comply with UN General Assembly Resolutions which require that the UK discuss with Spain the decolonisation of Gibraltar.

  3. Under EU law Spain has the prefecture of the waters around Gibraltar. They are therefore rightfully in it. The disgracefull state of the waters demands some action from a body that isn’t run by the five Gibraltar families that run the Rock. I watch daily as people in Gibraltar dump rubbish in the water or the port boats ditch diesel and oil in the port. I think Spain should be reporting the gibraltarians twice a day. As a Brit when will the UK government step in and turn this dirty little council estate in the sun around. They need to stop the families importing billions of cigarettes every year and swamping the EU and UK. The loss of revenue from tax and financial problem the EU and UK FACE are directly linked the black market. Wake up and expose this colonial den of smugglers and want to be new rich! Why not start but asking Spain to tax all the smuggling families who comute to Soto Grande each day from the rock and who use it to make illegal monies.

  4. @RS
    I think you have forgotten the a before and the e after your name!
    You watch people dumping rubbish. Tell the police then.
    Sotogrande is the place. One word not two. Commute has two m’s. Disgraceful only one l etc etc
    Swamping the EU and UK :-) Are you serious?
    The dirty little council estate employs an awful lot of Spanish and British people and has rents and property costs that most can’t afford so it can’t be quite so horrible as you make out can it?
    The Spanish are bullies picking on a small nation but then again they tried to take it 13 times by siege so obviously actual combat isn’t their strong point. Being petty certainly is.
    It is people like you who should be supporting the oppressed not backing a fascist state who oppress and bully their own people.

  5. FurtherBeyond

    No evidence of rebuttal usual rhetoric – UNCLOS applies to Gibraltar just like everywhere else. Those old UN resolutions from the 1960s are no longer applicable and the right to self-determination applies (as confirmed by 4 Advisory Opinions and 1 Judgment). Decolonization does not mean re-colonization. Lol.

  6. @F.Beyond
    there you go again.
    Dont you get tired of saying the same nonsence all the time. There’s no way Spains getting its grubby corrupt hands on gibraltar. Maybe the place becomes totally independent, maybe not.
    But please just quit with the silly de-colonise rhetoric. Its only on that silly list because of you and your friends.

    Like others have said we’re now talking about self-determination. Something the basque country will be getting soon…

  7. why is there hardly any mention of the n African enclaves Ceuta Melilla and the various island that Spain holds along the Moroccan Coast
    just hit spain back with the same arguements

    But Gib needs to get their act together
    we will not fight a war like the Falklands
    with the one ship we have left in the RN

  8. I agree with RS, Spain is certainly in it! Up to the neck! They have gotten so tiresome with wanting Gibraltar back, that now Morocco is getting all set up to claim Ceuta Melilla and the rest of the Spanish bits and pieces they have on the African Continent. Sorry its in Spanish but you can always use the translate option. I am sure RS will have no need to use it.

  9. RS
    If you are truly a Brit, your standard of basic English is just as poor as your arguments or are you a “Brit in disguise”?
    Now, for your ultimate test, name the five Gibraltarian families running the local economy just in case I can relate to one of these.

  10. @BigJon

    You mean the sort of self-determination that the UN, the US and even the UK has declared illegal in Crimea? Have you ever stopped to wonder how this might be possible given your view that the right to self-determination is universal?

    The simple answer, which you wilfully refuse to countenance, in the face of all the evidence, is that under international law there ARE exceptions to the right of self-determination. This is the case in the case of the Crimea, Gibraltar, the Falkland Islands and the Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine.

    If you’re really interested in the facts, you should do yourself a favour, forget your fanciful wishful thinking, and have a look at the following reference by the pre-eminent international lawyer, and Cambridge University Professor: James Crawford, The Creation of States in International Law (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2007) at Ch.14.

    This is the reason why the UN refuses to accept that the colonists currently occupying Gibraltar have a right to determine the nationality of the territory they occupy.

    As you no doubt are aware, as recently as this year the UN Fourth Committee issued a resolution that yet again repeated its previous calls, urging both the UK and Spain to reach a definitive solution over Gibraltar, under the 1984 Brussels Declaration.

    This agreement expressly, and with good reason, excludes any role for the occupants of Gibraltar in determining the sovereignty of Gibraltar.

    Indeed, the latest resolution, yet again, completely ignored calls by the colony’s Chief Minister that the UN should ignore the Brussels agreement and instead recognise the colonists alleged right to self-determination.

  11. @Rob

    Unlike Gibraltar, Ceuta and Melilla are not considered to be colonial enclaves by the UN. They are not listed on the UN list of territories awaiting decolonisation.

    These territories pre-exist the creation of the Moroccan State – they were Spanish hundreds of years before Morocco existed.
    In contrast Gibraltar was colonised by the UK while it was part of the Kingdom of Spain.

  12. @BritBob

    Sovereignty over the territory of Gibraltar is governed by the Treaty of Utrecht. The terms of the treaty provide that the territory of Gibraltar must revert back to Spain before any change in its sovereignty status can take place. The terms of the treaty thus clearly evidence that the territory is part of Spain’s sovereign territory that is currently occupied by the United Kingdom.

    Moreover, the current population of Gibraltar is not indigenous and has no origin other than British settlers and other persons who had come from abroad to work and trade in the British military base; the original population of Gibraltar having been expelled from the territory by the British in 1704.

    Numerous UN General Assembly resolutions have requested that the UK negotiate with Spain the decolonisation of the territory of Gibraltar. None of these resolutions have ever mentioned any rights of the local population to participate in those discussions. Instead, these resolutions consistently support Spain’s argument that the territory falls under the paragraph 6 exception in resolution 1514 which proscribes a right to self-determination in certain particular cases. This is because the UN believes that despite Gibraltar’s status as a non-self-governing territory its occupants are not the true population of the territory but instead are a community artificially created from heterogeneous origins by colonial processes after the treaty was signed.

    Resolution 2353 for example, expressly states that rights over the territory of Gibraltar should be resolved without the participation of the local population. Significantly, that resolution followed a plebiscite in which the population of Gibraltar was given a choice between continuing its present ties with the United Kingdom or reverting to Spanish sovereignty. Notwithstanding the fact that the occupants of the territory of Gibraltar voted overwhelmingly in favor of maintaining their present status, the resolution, declared: “[T]he holding of the referendum of 10 September 1967 by the Administering power [was] a contravention of the provisions of [the] General Assembly namely Resolution 2231(XXI) of 20 December 1966.”

    The desire of the British settlers to maintain their colonial status in a second referendum in November 2002 in which 98.97% voted in favour of sole British sovereignty was similarly not recognised by the UN GA, which called instead for continued negotiations between the UK and Spain (see GA Dec. 57/526 (2002).

    This position is re-enforced by the United Nation’s consistent call upon Britain and Spain to settle the issue of Gibraltar’s sovereignty through bilateral negotiation that specifically excludes mention of the inhabitants of Gibraltar.

    Even after the establishment in 2004 of the tripartite Forum of Dialogue, UN decisions continue to refer to the Brussels agreement as the only forum for negotiation. This agreement includes an explicit commitment requiring both Britain and Spain, and ONLY Britain and Spain, to discuss the sovereignty of Gibraltar.

    The consistent reference to the Brussels agreement in all decisions and resolutions post 1984 means that the UN supports Spain’s argument that only Britain and Spain can discuss the question of Gibraltar’s sovereignty and that self-determination continues to have no bearing on the status of Gibraltar.

    As recently as this year, the UN Fourth Committee issued a resolution that yet again repeated its previous calls, urging both the UK and Spain to reach a definitive solution over Gibraltar, under the 1984 Brussels Declaration. This agreement expressly excludes any role for the occupants of Gibraltar in determining the sovereignty of Gibraltar.

    Indeed, the latest resolution, yet again, completely ignored calls by the colony’s Chief Minister that the UN should ignore the Brussels agreement and instead recognise the colonists alleged right to self-determination.

    Even the current British Government have formally recognised limits to the principle of self-determination for their colonists living in Gibraltar. According to the latest UK white paper on Gibraltar: ‘…The British Government…supports the principle of right of self-determination, but this must be exercised in accordance with the other principles or rights in the UN Charter as well as other treaty obligations. In Gibraltar’s case, because of the Treaty of Utrecht, this means that Gibraltar could become independent only with Spanish consent’.

  13. @FBeyond: tl;dr
    For all your silliness and antagonism (or stupidity?) you ignore one thing – spain will NEVER get its corrupt hands on Gib.
    So which would you prefer? It remains part of Britain, or goes independent.
    Be aware that if you choose self-determination / independence, then the basque country will demand the same.

    OH and just for fun. will you ever repay the Jews that bought the rock legally, who you then illegally stole their land and murdered them?

  14. Endlessly banging on about treaties is very boring indeed and will not make any difference to the eventual outcome. The bottom line is that Spain will not get Gibraltar back without having a war with Britain. There has been a recent referendum and Gibraltarians wish to remain British so why don’t Spain just leave things alone?

    If Spain does take Gibraltar, what exactly do they want to do with it? Why is it so important to them and if it is, why do they not set a moral precedent and hand back Ceuta and Melilla as a token gesture of goodwill?

    This is a road to absolutely nowhere and for the vast majority of right minded people, the current arrangement is not broken so why “fix” it? Can you think of a more pointless exercise?

    Spain is playing a very, very dangerous game which could have very serious consequences for their country – they have a lot to lose by completely alienating the UK. If they do succeed in taking Gibraltar, it will have been through extreme force with dire consequences and it will be a very hollow victory indeed. Be careful what you wish for.

  15. Good afternoon !

    A quick Q&A to get us all up to speed:

    1) Should the flow of traffic at the border crossing be further reduced? Yes of course, the land border crossing should be reduced to humanitarian cases only in accordance with the treaty of Utrecht.
    2) Does that mean that it will be impossible to live in Sotogrande or La Línea and work in Gibraltar ? Yes, I am affraid so.
    3) What about my kids? They go to school in Gibraltar because it is much cheaper than sending then to an English school in Spain, what about them? Well, you can either fork out the cash to send then to an English school in Spain or send then to a completely free of charge Spanish state school, your choice!
    4) Would the removal of those concrete blocks help improve the flow of traffic at the border? No, I am affraid not, Mr. Picardo has opened a can of worms that are now all over the place. No, the flow of traffic across the border will never be as it was before the concrete block dropping, not now, not in the next 300 years.
    5) Does this mean we can expect long queues this summer to cross into and out of Gibraltar? Absolutely, mi advise is to bring sunblocker, deck chairs, food to cover at least two meals and plenty of water. Plan in your daily schedule approximately 5 hours for border crossing.

  16. Oh and FurtherBeyond, please stop quoting the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht. This treaty was made null and void by Spain the very first time they tried to regain Gibraltar through force in 1727, then reinforced in it’s invalidation by the attack of 1779.

  17. Cut ‘n’ paste special. As usual you have nothing to say of any relevance or in rebuttal to UNCLOS or the 4 UN ICJ Advisory Opinions and 1 UN ICJ Judgment that conforms that ‘the right top self-determination is applicable to ALL non-self-governing territories (this is international law).Decolonisation certainly does not mean re-colonisation.

  18. Advice, first of all, directed at Further Beyond.
    Your epistles are long-winded, boring and constantly repeated whenever there is an article about Gibraltar. If you are trying to come across as an intelligent academic, boy are you failing!
    Now, Ciudadanos’s turn.
    At first, you tried to question and showed a high degree of fairness in not only projecting your own point of view but also trying to understand opposing Gibraltarian comments on any given topic.
    However, recently, your statements have become rather flippant and nonsensical. Even the usually high standard of your English is deteriorating. I do hope you are not writing under the influence!

  19. Well it looks like David Cameron is continuing to do his bit to promote Spain as a holiday destination during his Easter holidays, good for you David!
    We know you have to play “Bad Cop” with us now and again to keep your 30,000 colonial subjects living in Southern Spain happy, but at the end of the day, our relationship with the UK is excellent.

  20. In the 21st century, UK already realized that gibraltar only brings them trouble, cost a lot to maintain and doesnt bring anything back, moreover is a taxhaven where money gets loundry.

    More money in gib, means less money for Health services, roads, defence, etc…

    At the same time it works as a hideout for morrocan smugglers, any time spanish enforcing authorities chase them, they run to gibraltar, coz the have it easier there.

    Military wise i also completely obsolete, having Rota, one of the main NATO naval stations nextby is more than sufficient. Gib sucks a lot a gives nothing back to UK.

  21. Well, I’m from Gibraltar and I’m British but I have to say that Gib has no territorial waters. Yes, I’ve heard what our PM Fabian Picardo has to say about it, yes I’ve heard what my fellow Gibraltarians think about the matter at hand but, it’s not about what we think or what we want, it’s about what we can prove in a written Treaty of Utrecht that was signed over 300 years ago. Of course I want Gibraltar to have our territorial waters but we have to be serious and stick with the actual facts: we do not have territorial waters, hence the Spanish claim. It makes sense to me. The Rock however, that’s ours and will always be ours!

  22. Fast Track, your turn first and I will try to keep it as simple as possible so that you can understand what I am saying.
    1. Gibraltar is self sufficient and does not cost UK a penny. In fact, its GDP is much higher than mainland Britain’s.
    2.Where have you got the idea that it’s a hideout for Moroccan smugglers? A high percentage of drug smugglers are actually Spanish. The Moroccans provide the drugs, the Spaniards transport. Check your own Guardia Civil records!
    3. Gibraltar is a forward operating base. In other words, it is there if and when needed. Depending on the threat, it can be very busy(as during the recent Libyan crisis} or not busy at all. Far better than permanently harbouring ships armed with weapons of mass destruction as in Rota. M.O.D. pays for this base just as it does with any other base in the UK.
    Now please explain how Gibraltar “sucks a lot a gives nothing back to UK”.
    Do you realise that if we interpreted The Treaty of Utrecht literally, Jews would not be allowed to live on the Rock.
    There have been many international developments and treaties since then and these supersede many of the details found or not encompassed in the treaty. There weren’t any aeroplanes at the time, does that mean Gibraltar has no air space because it wasn’t mentioned in the treaty.
    The concept of internationally recognised territorial waters didn’t exist at the time either.
    Whether you are Gibraltarian or not, you are, of course,entitled to your own point of view. Freedom of speech is, after all, the backbone of a truly democratic society.

  23. Gibboland

    IF Spain wants to delimit British Gibraltar’s territorial waters (awarded under UNCLOS) they can not do this unilaterally and have to do this via the UN ICJ.

    ‘Historic Title’ Permanent Court of Arbitration Case – Guyana – Suriname 17th September 2007 paragraphs 296 and 297 Primacy is given to the median line between adjacent states over any ‘historic title’. Also, Spain would have to ”prove it was necessary” to delimit Gibraltar’s waters.

    Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, Spanish Foreign Minister said ‘he was not sure in legal challenge of Gibraltar’s waters’ quoted in MercoPress Dec 13 2013.

    Jose Antonio de Yturriaga former Spanish Ambassador of Iraq, Ireland and Russia said, ‘The Spanish position on the issue of Gibraltar’s territorial waters was weak and lacked any legal basis.’ (2010).

    Jesus Verdu, a law professor from the University of Cadiz wrote about the Treaty of Utrecht and pointed out that the inclusion of waters was implicit in any treaty over land. The Treaty does not mention Gibraltar waters or Spanish waters. IF Spain had intended to exclude the waters then legally they were obliged to mention that in the Treaty and they didn’t.

    On 11th October 1966 the UK proposed to Spain that the ICJ give a decision on sovereignty over the Bay of Gibraltar, the town, the Isthmus and airspace. On 14th December 1966 the Spanish government said that they were unable to accept the UK’s proposal.

  24. Tony Blair is also on holiday in Spain visiting “La Costa del Sol”. Before you now it, HM the Queen will be here visiting San Roque and Algeciras.

    There is no place like Spain,”¡Viva España!”.

  25. Tony Blair is also on holiday in Spain visiting “La Costa del Sol”. Before you know it, HM the Queen will be here visiting San Roque and Algeciras.
    There is no place like Spain,”¡Viva España!”.

  26. Ciudadanos
    People from all walks of life are entitled to holiday wherever they wish. It is a known fact that the queen of Spain spends most of her spare time in London. Actually it is said that she is more fluent in English than in Spanish.
    Probably enjoys more her cousin’s company than her husband’s I suppose.

  27. Spain is indeed a good place to spend a few days sunning yourself. You can also help out by throwing the impoverished locals a few euros while you are there, but for anything else? Forget it.

  28. @Tim
    Without a doubt, UK binge drinkers have a very positive effect on the Spanish economy, so you are all very welcome as we are open for business 24hrs a day!!

  29. @El Fifi

    That is very nice of you to clarify that people from all walks of life like John Major, Tony Blair, David Cameron, Nick Clegg or Roger Osborne, just to name a few, are actually entitled to enjoy good food, nice weather, Spanish culture and hospitality.

    You are so kind!

    Do you think Tony will be popping down to Gibraltar to say hello to Fabian?
    It could be a productive day if he also purchases some booze and cigis while he is down there!

  30. Ciudadanos,
    I hope all those who read and contribute to The Olive Press are enjoying this Easter break wherever you are whether you are religious or not.
    I am sure that after Monday, there will be articles that will invite further verbal sparring, something we all seem to enjoy when there is nothing else to do.
    We should consider ourselves lucky when we compare our situation with other parts of the world. Border queues, incursions, etc. pale into insignificance.
    Once again, enjoy.

  31. I have just stumbled across an article written a few years ago by Australian journalist Eric Ellis. Quite a fascinating take on the reality of Gibraltar.

    “Tell it like is, Gib! Everyone knows you’re a tax haven, so just say it. It’s how you make your living. Some people create companies and build things — useful things, actual things. You create companies to disappear things, often other companies. You are where Big Business goes when it wants to vanish — from creditors, bankers, shareholders. You’re the taxwash deployed by Russian oligarchs, banks, insurers and slick-haired lawyers to set up circular and impenetrable corporate structures, in cahoots with your mates in Jersey and the British Virgin Islands (curious how all these places tend to be British). Not for nothing did Gib hire its corporate regulator after he’d done stints in the Cayman Islands and the Isle of Man.
    With its millions of shelf companies in legal garrets that own billions in assets elsewhere, far from the prying eyes of the world’s regulators, Gibraltar is the wealthy’s discreet refuge for funny money. With homegrown values like these, I’m betting Gibraltarians don’t grow up wanting to be Mandela or Gandhi, Steve Jobs or even Lionel Messi — more like Madoff and Gekko.”

    “Gibraltar is also the place where you’re likely to be separated from your hard-earned if you dabble in online casinos, and pornography too, say many. Gib may be the world’s only legal jurisdiction where its state corporate regulatory agency shares an office block with companies called Party Gaming and Lucky Nugget Online Casino, virtual enterprises which deeply annoy US authorities trying to protect its homegrown casino industry.”

    “Officials here are pumped up with self-importance. They talk about “national” this and “global” that, citing UN human development index measures and pompously comparing Gib’s statistics to other sovereign nations as if they are equals.”

    “Gentlemen — and they are always men — enough please! You live in a town of 30,000 people, as few as Dubbo. Yes, you jealously keep a few financial secrets, but Dubbo’s not a UN member and neither are you.”


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