Date: 22 July 2012 at 09:30
Two local men were arrested on Friday night by the Guardia Civil approximately 200m off Europa Point, in British Gibraltar territorial waters. The Guardia Civil took the two Gibraltarians and their vessel to Algeciras, reporting them for fishing tuna in Spanish waters.
Speaking to GBC on condition of anonymity, the two men caught up in Friday night’s unsavory incident told us they landed a tuna approximately 12 miles out from Gibraltar in waters recognised internationally as 'high seas'.
They say they were on their way back to Gibraltar when a large Spanish Guardia Civil vessel, Rio Ceden, demanded they stop. At this point the local anglers asked the Royal Gibraltar Police for assistance.
The two men told us they did not resist when two Civil Guard officers jumped on board and commandeered the local boat, switching off all navigation lights before heading to Algeciras, flanked by the Guardia Civil vessel.
When halfway into the Bay of Gibraltar, the two men told us they witnessed the RGP attempting to gain control of the local craft but was denied by the Rio Ceden, who blocked the rescue attempt. Once in Algeciras, all the big game tackle was confiscated together with the fish. The local anglers tried to remain calm while being transferred to the Guardia Civil Headquarters where they were reported for fishing for tuna in Spanish waters.
GBC understands the Spanish Bluefin tuna quota for recreational anglers had elapsed several weeks earlier. But the local fishermen have told us they are sure the waters they fished in were not Spanish. In the early hours of Saturday morning, they were released, motoring their boat back to Gibraltar.
This is not the first time the Guardia Civil have taken executive action in Gibraltar waters, the sovereignty of which they do not recognise. Friday night's incursion and arrests do, however, represent a provocative escalation of an already tense situation.