Gib boat and Spanish customs involved in shoreline incident

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© Paul Handley.
Europa Point as seen from the Strait of Gibraltar.

THE Gibraltar government reported an incursion into their territorial water over the weekend by a Spanish state vessel, which travelled in up to the shoreline of an area designated for swimmers, causing serious fears for safety. 

The incident occurred when the Spanish customs boat chased a Gibraltar registered pleasure craft, which had failed to respond to a radio warning from the Spanish. 

The Gib boat had been stationed at Europa Point, as the two people on board fished, they said, and had left the area when they feared the Spanish crew would board their vessel. According to the Spanish customs officers, the boat was acting suspiciously.

A later search by Gibraltar Police found nothing out of order on the boat, they said. The customs boat pursued the vessel well into a swimming area, marked by buoys, where boats are banned.

“This is another glaringly obvious example of a Spanish state vessel attempting to assert its authority well inside our territorial limits. It could hardly be clearer that the vessel had no jurisdiction to operate at Europa Point and even less just a few metres from a beach at Camp Bay,” said the Deputy Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia. “Quite apart from the serious political issues raised by this matter, it is also dangerous for a state vessel to operate in this way inside a demarcated bathing area. This is illegal in the face of internationally-recognised Laws of the Sea.”

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