A SPANISH fisherman was unrepentant today about fishing illegally in British waters.
He and two other fishing captains from the Puerto de La Atunara port in La Linea de la Concepcion insisted they would continue to plunder fish from Gibraltarian waters.
The group insist they are NOT scared of confrontation and that the Gibraltarian sea belt is rightfully Spanish.
“I have fished since I was 15 years old and almost every day since I have been in Gibraltarian waters,” Esteban Navarro Bedriomo, 50, the captain of the notorious Virgen Carmen Primero, told the Gibraltar Olive Press.
“I fish wherever I want, Gibraltar does not have a sea” he says laughing.
Esteban was undaunted by previous approaches from the Royal Gibraltar Police and the Royal Navy’s Gibraltar Squadron.
Even this very morning Esteban said he had been pulled up by a boat from the Department of Energy & Climate Change, the Storm Petrel.
“I just moved on elsewhere and tomorrow I’ll be back in the exact place where they found me,” he says shrugging.
“The Spanish authorities say I can fish there, so I do and when the Gibraltarian authorities try and stop me, they never show me an EU or European community document that says I can’t.”
The situation has enraged Gibraltarian fishermen who believe they face immediate prosecution if caught fishing illegally, while their Spanish colleagues are given free rein.
While the authorities do request the Spanish boats leave there seems to be no enforcement to this with captains simply moving elsewhere with their illegal hauls.
Prosecutions are exceedingly rare and despite the Gibraltarian government’s claims to the contrary, Esteban knew no-one who had faced criminal charges in his thirty-five years at sea.
“What is the problem with me fishing here?” Esteban questioned.
“The Gibraltarians just pour all their sewage in the sea, everything from human waste to industrial products.
“They should clean up their act first before telling us about looking after the sea.
“At least we Spanish take proper care of the oceans, their sea is for everyone.”
In May of this year, the European Court of Justice ruled that Gibraltar was breaking EU law by dumping raw sewage into the Mediterranean at Europa Point.
A government spokesperson told the Gibraltar Olive Press that plans were in the final stages for a new treatment facility.
“Why should we care about their environment when their sewage floats into our waters, killing our animals?” contested Miguel Molinero, 44, captain of the Ana.
“There’s nothing they can do to stop me taking their fish anyway because really they belong to Spain, Gibraltar is not a real thing.”
“Gibraltar is my favourite place to fish and that will not change,” Esteban says pointing to the locations off Eastside on his sonar that he visits daily.
“Every boat in this port fishes in Gibraltarian waters, every single one” he said.
“Me and a few others are just picked up the most because there are no repercussions for entering Gibraltarian waters so we don’t even both switching our radar off.
“Anyone can track us. Nothing happens,” he says brazenly.
I counted 32 fishing boats in the harbour that morning alone, while the port officials estimated at least that figure again would have been out at sea.
When you consider that this is just ONE port in the fishing town of La Linea, it is evident how endemic the problem is.
“Yes, of course we fish in Gibraltar” says Javi Pascal Martín, 52, captain of the Santa María, as if I had just asked him if the Earth was round, “why wouldn’t we?”