The Governor is discussing with London an appropriate diplomatic response to an incursion by a Spanish State vessel on Saturday afternoon. Sir James Dutton says he’s followed the reports of the incident closely and has been fully briefed by both the Royal Gibraltar Police and the Royal Navy. He’s told GBC, it’s clear that this has been an “unacceptable and unwarranted” incursion into British Gibraltar Territorial Waters by a Spanish State Vessel. The Foreign Office will also be making representations to London and Madrid.
Meanwhile, in a statement on Sunday, the Government said: ” This is another glaringly obvious example of a Spanish state vessel attempting to assert its authority well inside our territorial limits.”
The Statement from Number Six confirms that at around six thirty on Saturday afternoon, the Spanish Customs vessel, ‘Aguila IV’, chased a Gibraltar-registered pleasure boat within British Gibraltar Territorial Waters, and inside the demarcated buoys at Camp Bay.
The pleasure boat, had been stationed about one nautical mile off Europa point, when it was circled by the SVA, and the occupants, who claim to have been fishing, asked to produce documentation. It took refuge in the area of Camp Bay and called for assistance.
The SVA launch returned to Spain when the RGP, GDP and Royal Navy launches arrived and warnings were read. The Spanish Authorities claimed the pleasure boat had been off Estepona and had failed to stop when asked to do so.
The pleasure craft was escorted to the Marine Base where the occupants said they’d run away for fear of being boarded.
Acting Chief Minister, Doctor Joseph Garcia says: ” It could hardly be clearer that the vessels had no jurisdiction to operate at Europa Point and even less a few metres from a beach at Camp Bay.” He adds that quite apart from the serious political issues, the incident also raises the dangers of a state vessel operating within a demarcated bathing area.