THE regional government of Spain’s Andalucia has taken down a webpage showing a map that marked out Gibraltar’s territorial waters after Vox complained.
Far-right party Vox raged in September that the Andalucian ministry of agricultural, fisheries, waters and rural development showed the Gibraltar waters as they are recognised by the UK and not by Spain.
The Junta de Andalucia then took down the page, replacing it with an error message and claiming it was ‘aligning with the Spanish Government position’ on Gibraltar waters.
Spain’s government claims that Gibraltar’s waters are only limited to those inside its port as set out in the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht.
Now, when internet users try to go into the webpage that is supposed to show areas where molluscs and other shellfish breed, an error appears.
The Andalucian authorities use the OpenStreetMap designed by the British engineer Steve Coast, an important figure in geography.
The latest controversy follows stats issued by the UK Defence Minister James Heappey in Parliament.
It showed that there have been 382 incursions by Spanish naval boats from January 1 to October 16 2023.
The last flashpoint took place when the HMS Cutlass had to intercept the Spanish Isla de Leon after it turned up in the middle of a military exercise on the east of the Rock.
A Ministry of Defence statement said the launch had carried out ‘unsafe manouvres’ during a live fire exercise that could have put other ships in danger.
The UK signed the UN Charter of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) that provides Gibraltar with a few kilometres of territorial waters as provided by international law.
But Spain objected to the UNCLOS decision since the 1970s, going against the UN position that ‘no territory can have a dry coast’.
A Spanish academic recently wrote a study that suggested that this was a Franco-era policy that was never changed in the rush to democracy.
Gibraltar Chief Minister Fabian Picardo has challenged Spain to take the case to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
But he said his northern neighbour would never go to the ICJ because it knows it would lose such a case.