|Fishing in whose waters?|
Fisherman told to decide on his court appearance
MADRID (Agencies) Francisco Gómez Elías received a court summons on Tuesday, handed to him on the water by the RGP, as we reported here. He handed the matter over to the president of his fishing fraternity, who in turn sought advice from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. The ministry issued a statement that says>>>PLEASE BE AWARE THAT IN THE NEAR FUTURE YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO READ THE COMPLETE ITEM UNLESS YOU HAVE SUBSCRIBED. Subscription information will be available soon.>>> the summons is 'not valid' because, according to an agreement of 2000 between Spain and Britain, any communication between the court authorities on the Rock and Spain must come through the British liaison office in London. It left the matter of whether to appear in court on September 21 with his lawyer up to Gómez himself, and went on to add that in any case the charges (two for disobeying authority, one for illegal fishing in 'Gibraltar waters' and one for making dangerous manouvres with his vessel) are about alleged infractions supposedly committed in 'Spanish waters', which are only within the jurisdiction of Spain, and not Gibraltar. In the meantime,Francisco Gómez was out there in the disputed waters, fishing 'more quietly' than on Tuesday, as he said. He couldn't set out yesterday because of heavy mist.
One of the legal problems that have emerged, as we said in our Tuesday item, is that a precedent could be set by Gómez's court appearance, as it would in some way recognize Gibraltar's jurisdiction over the disputed waters. This is probably why the Spanish Government has decided to keep its distance from this specific matter.
On another related matter that keeps the fisherman in the 'eye of a hurricane' as he puts it, the EU Court of Justice last week rejected an appeal by Gibraltar tha alleged that Spain is incapable of protecting the natural fish habitat in the waters around the Rock.