A SPANISH fisherman who claims he is being ‘harassed’ by Gibraltar Police has been charged for fishing in the waters close to the Rock last Monday, May 21.
Jonathan Sanchez, 33, who has been accused of illegal fishing after his boat was spotted near Gibraltar for the fourth time since May, claims these waters are Spanish.
“I am fishing in waters that the government of my country considers Spanish and I use fishing nets and techniques that are legal in Spain and in the European Union,” Sanchez, who is also the President of La Linea’s Port Fishermen Association, said.
The Spaniard, who will be facing court over the next few weeks, is further accused of dangerous navigation, a count he denies.
“After taking my fishing nets from the water, I sailed towards La Linea’s Atunara, and they are saying that I rammed their vessel, but this is not true, they made this up.”
And this morning, one day after the incident, Sanchez decided to go back near the Rock while being escorted by Spain’s Guardia Civil.
The Spanish police were protecting Sanchez’s boat while a vessel of the Royal Gibraltar Police was only a few metres away.
“They have been insisting that those waters are theirs, and if it wasn’t for the Guardia Civil, they would have taken me with them,” Sanchez explains.
He adds that while returning to la Linea, in the limit with the Rock’s waters, the Gibraltarian Police started harassing him again.
“They accelerated at full speed and crossed in front of me, which could have caused an accident. What they are accusing me of is what they usually do every time we are in that area.”
Despite the incidents experienced, Sanchez has said he intends to return to the heated spot.
“Guardia Civil have told me I cannot go back to the area but that’s where I make my living. I want to go back, but I don’t know how safe this would be. I’ll have to fish in another area first while waiting for things to calm down.”
In response to these events, Algeciras Mayor Jose Ignacio Landaluce has asked Gibraltar Chief Minister Fabian Picardo to ‘stop harassing’ Spanish boats.
Landaluce insists that Gibraltarian authorities need to stop doing this to avoid creating ‘a conflict that should not exist because Gibraltar is not the owner of the waters that surrounds the colony.’
“Gibraltar does not own the waters of the Bay and the eastern side, which it uses. We are suffering an unauthorised pressure on Spanish vessels, whose owners are making a living at sea and in the area, where they have always done so to provide for their family,” he said.
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