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Spain complains to Britain in Gibraltar fishing row

18 august 2012, 12:55
0
©REUTERS/Erik de Castro
©REUTERS/Erik de Castro
Spain made a formal complaint to Britain Friday in a simmering dispute over fishing off the territory of Gibraltar, AFP reports.

The Spanish foreign ministry sent a note to Britain's embassy in Madrid to "express its displeasure" at Gibraltar upholding a ban on fishing with nets off the territory, a diplomatic source told AFP.

The government of Gibraltar, an enclave under British sovereignty at the western mouth of the Mediterranean, on Thursday said it was maintaining the ban, citing environmental concerns.

Spain said this contravened an agreement Gibraltar made on August 3 to let Spanish boats continue fishing there, and asserted its claim to sovereignty over the waters.

The ministry "reiterated the government's position that Spanish fishermen should be able to fish freely in Spanish waters with no limitations other than those imposed by Spanish law and European regulations," the source said.

Under a 1999 agreement Gibraltar allowed Spanish fishermen to cast their nets in the contested waters around the territory as long as they stayed at least 225 metres from the coast.

But since March, Gibraltar's new government has taken a harder line against fishing in the area, citing a 1991 environmental law that bans fishing with nets in the area.

Police boats from the two sides briefly faced off in May near the mouth of Gibraltar harbour. Spain's Queen Sofia cancelled a trip to London for Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee celebration lunch due to tension over the row.

Spain ceded Gibraltar to Britain in 1713 under the Treaty of Utrecht but has long argued that it should be returned to Spanish sovereignty and the two sides disagree about sovereignty over the coastal waters.

Britain has said it will not renounce sovereignty of the territory against the wishes of Gibraltarians.

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