THE Government of Gibraltar has reacted to Spain’s diplomatic protest over the ‘serious incidents’ involving Spanish fishermen in the waters surrounding the Rock.
A note verbale that was dated August 28 and that has been seen by Spanish daily El Pais voiced a ‘vigorous protest’ on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is headed up by caretaker Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares.
“Gibraltar violated Spain’s sovereignty as the incidents occurred in Spanish waters that are close to the Rock, acting outside their jurisdiction,” the note said.
The ministry insists that Spain does only recognise as British the waters within the limits of the Port of Gibraltar, citing the Peace of Utrecht signed in 1713.
In response to this protest, the Government of Gibraltar has issued a statement in which they disagree with its neighbourgh’s version.
“His Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar has absolutely no doubts about the British sovereignty of the waters around Gibraltar,” the press release said.
The reaction further asks for ‘unnecessary incidents on the water’ to be avoided, ‘as they create risk for the crews of the vessels.’
Gibraltar also plays the green card, citing issues related to illegal fishing and the protection of the environment.
“Matters relating to illegal fishing have long been a flash point as Gibraltar has a higher environmental protection standard than Spain when it comes to netting and raking. On bunkering, Gibraltar’s bunkering code is recognised as being of the highest international standard.”
Finally, Gibraltarian authorities claim that the latest incidents should not affect the ‘positive UK/EU Treaty negotiations which await the outcome of the investiture of a new Government in Spain.’
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