Tuesday, April 05, 2005

GSLP/Liberals raise alarm over coastline 'incursions'

GSLP/Liberals Opposition has raised the alarm over what they see as serious incursion of Gibraltar's waters and coastline by unofficial outside companies.

Following their statements regarding non-resident anglers taking up spots used by local fishermen, the Opposition says it has had a whole series of representations made to it on related matters like incursions by Spanish cockle fishermen at Western Beach. The Opposition said it takes a very serious view of these developments and urged the Government to take action in order to tackle the problem.

The latest complaints made to the Opposition are on the activities of non-resident divers coming into Gibraltar.

According to the information made available to the Opposition, diving companies based in Spain come in through the border with their clients and proceed to carry out dives from Gibraltar and in Gibraltar waters.

"These companies do not pay taxes in Gibraltar for carrying out their activities. Therefore they represent an element of unfair competition to those in Gibraltar who make a living through selling diving holidays to tourists and others. These foreign-based companies contribute nothing to the local economy because the tourists come here, carry out their dives, and leave through the frontier in the same way that they came in," they said.

The Opposition says that, in sharp contrast, the local diving industry sells their product to tourists who in many cases come to Gibraltar specifically for these purposes, and who choose to stay in local hotels and contribute to the local economy.

The Opposition says it has also been advised that on occasions the main diving sites are occupied by divers from Spain leaving local divers, or local service-providers with nowhere to go with their clients.

The GSLP Liberals believe that there is also a risk that Gibraltar could end up with a bad name as a result of these activities.

"The Opposition understand that there have been instances when a lack of local knowledge of currents and sea conditions has been apparent. In one such incident, when divers coming from Spain surfaced after a dive, they had to be picked up and rescued by passing pleasure craft because they did not know where they had ended up."

The danger is that in the event of a diving accident in Gibraltar, it is Gibraltar that will end up with a bad name and the local divers that will have to put up with the consequences, said a spokesman.

The Opposition considers that the scale of the problem being experienced on the seafront and the territorial waters of Gibraltar goes beyond anything most people could ever have imagined.

"What is happening is that local people are being pushed out of their own territory by non-resident persons who come from Spain."

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