Gibraltar Federation of Sea Anglers (GFSA) Urge For Marine Protection

In the Gibraltar Chronicle the Gibraltar Federation of Sea Anglers (GFSA) today voiced its frustration regarding lack of marine protection and fishing regulations despite 16 years of queries to the Government. It argues that something has to be done immediately to avoid the "destruction and decimation of all marine life".

During an extraordinary General Meeting of the GFSA held last week – attended by most local fishing clubs and individual anglers – the federation decided to go public. The GSPA said in the Chronicle, it has developed a comprehensive list of urgently needed implementations regarding "regulation, control and protection" which it has already submitted to Government on various occasions. It now asks the public to sign a petition trying to enforce new regulations as "doing nothing is no longer an option."

From the article: "... unscrupulous anglers, many who come to Gibraltar from Spain ... rape the coastline and the seas around it killing everything they catch ... The inevitable result of these activities is the destruction and decimation of all marine life around Gibraltar's coast line and within British Gibraltar Territorial Waters ... Every single type of edible anemone, plant life, crustacean, shell fish and other marine life is being taken from the sea bed. The seas close to the shore line are being left completely bare and bereft of any life and the Federation has documentary evidence of this. This destruction extends to species like the spider crab which is protected in Gibraltar but unfortunately the pertinent authorities do nothing and in many instances are unable to or unwilling to do anything ... Responsible anglers in Gibraltar are calling on the Government to show leadership where this issue is concerned and to act now before it is too late."

Police Will Be Tougher On Monkey Feeders

The Gibraltar Police Authority (GPA) is reacting on a public request and has asked the Royal Gibraltar Police (RGP) to guarantee "appropriate action to reduce the unauthorised feeding of Barbary Macaques", the Gibraltar Chronicle wrote today. The request comes as a result of research, which suggests that this interaction leads the monkey to roam residential areas in search for food.

As a result to complaints of residents, several roaming monkeys had to be culled as a "last resort" in the past, the Chronicle wrote, adding that recent research with one troop has shown "that the monkeys, if left to their own devices, tend to limit the extent of their roaming in search of natural food". The monkeys, as said in the paper, stayed in the Nature Reserve - researchers could make out more than 30 plants and insects serving as natural food sources.

Illegal Feeding For More Than a Century

As highlighted in the Chronicle, feeding the monkeys has been illegal for more than a century, but only one person has ever been convicted; "many tourists regard feeding the Barbary Macaques as part of their Gibraltar visit and are sometimes even encouraged to do so".
Now this might change - even if ever so slightly: Police Commissioner Louis Wink was quoted in the Gibraltar Chronicle saying the RGP would act on the request, though he does not think the RGP "should now embark on a hunt for people feeding the apes ... My personal opinion is that the relevant authorities should engage in a public awareness campaign to warn people that the possibility of prosecution for that type of offence is now increased because the police have been asked by the community through the Gibraltar Police Authority to intervene directly."

A Halt To Unauthorised Feeding: A Warmly Welcomed Step

Our charity certainly welcomes the request. We have long stressed the importance of treating the monkeys as wild animals. Feeding them chocolate, crisps and even fast food have several undesired effects. Firstly, monkeys then tend to roam into residential areas, which has lead to very unwelcomed measures, as described above. Secondly, the interaction with humans disturbs the order within the troops. Thirdly, the unhealthy diet causes them earlier sexual maturity and tooth decay. Finally, it is inappropriate to treat the monkey as a pet. It definitively is not. It is a primate, which – even if usually peaceful and curious – is destined to protect his young ones or other troop members, so treat it with respect and do not involuntarily threaten it.
According to the Chronicle, "addressing the underlying causes of nuisance behaviour by Gibraltar's monkeys will benefit them in the long term". We fully agree.

GONHS & PDP Support Sea Anglers

The Gibraltar Federation of Sea Anglers (GFSA) has received support: Opposition party PDP issued a press release in the Gibraltar Chronicle stressing that Gibraltar needs laws to protect marine life; the Gibraltar Ornithological & Natural History Society (GONHS) highlighted that it has campaigned for marine protection for decades.

GFSA: Grave Concerns

The GFSA said, it decided to go public with their concerns over marine matters last week after negotiations with Government have remained fruitless for 16 years. The GFSA explained its move with the alarming demise and destruction of marine biodiversity which calls for immediate action. Read the full article on our webpage: Gibraltar Federation of Sea Anglers (GFSA) Urge For Marine Protection !

PDP: Act Now

The PDP last Friday stated in the Gibraltar Chronicle that the GFSA brought up "serious" issues that "merit urgent attention". To read the article, click here: Regulate Angling and Enforce the Law Now!

Below you can read the full press release of our sister charity GONHS – whose Marine Section Head Dr Eric Shaw is also the Chairman of the Helping Hand Trust:

"The Gibraltar Ornithological & Natural History Society (GONHS) welcomes the statements made recently by the Gibraltar Federation of Sea Anglers (GFSA).
GONHS has for decades campaigned for the protection of all wildlife in Gibraltar and its territorial waters. It was GONHS, for example, that unmasked the Spanish declaration of a Site of Community Interest (SCI), which overlaps an existing SCI "Southern Waters of Gibraltar" within British Gibraltar Territorial Waters.

Back in 1990, GONHS produced the draft that became the Nature Protection Ordinance (now Act) of 1991. After discussion with fishing groups, GONHS was also involved in drafting the corresponding Marine Reserve Regulations of 1995, which have not been enforced to this day. These, which are still in the statute book, contain most of the necessary instruments to effectively enforce marine protection in all of Gibraltar’s waters. The 1999 local fishing “agreement”, which allowed Spanish fishermen to work our waters despite the Act’s provisions, may have sent out a false signal that our marine protection laws were inadequate.

Local anglers, spear-fishermen and others often express their concerns to us about the non-enforcement of existing nature protection laws (the Nature Protection Act) and the need for further regulation of anglers in particular.
Many Spanish anglers and divers visiting Gibraltar, emboldened by the lack of enforcement of our laws and the apparent 'free-for-all' situation regarding our waters, likewise show little regard for our marine environment.

The Society has continued to press the Government, as well as law enforcement agencies, for the Nature Protection Act to be enforced. Because of the failure to enforce Gibraltar law, some local fishermen have taken to committing offences themselves, either by using fishing nets, or by using aqualungs to fish for octopuses or other marine life, including protected species such as spider crabs. The use of aqualungs for fishing is an offence under the Criminal Offences Act.

GONHS takes note of the GFSA's call for the setting up of marine reserves and wishes to reiterate the fact that Gibraltar has had the Marine Nature Reserve Regulations in its legislation since 1995. GONHS would welcome meeting with organisations or individuals interested in the future of Gibraltar's marine life and sustainable and responsible angling and spearfishing."

Opposition: Regulation of Activities of Foreign Anglers

The GSLP/Liberals has urged the Gibraltar Government to implement fishing regulations for non-resident anglers to avoid over-fishing, the Gibraltar Chronicle wrote today, adding that the GSLP said, it has made respective requests in Parliament during recent years, but only received evasive answers.
The Opposition highlighted, that many locals have come to the GSLP with complaints over foreign anglers. The GSLP said, that some locals even were sent away from their angling spot, when a Spanish fishing club was holding a competition; the GSLP also gave the example of one non-resident, who used "28 fishing rods on the east-side reclamation area".

The GSLP was quoted in the Chronicle, saying that "it is totally unacceptable that such an important issue as protecting our fisheries should have been neglected for so long and that despite the obvious need to act, the Government should still be at the stage of studying the matter before deciding what to do. If they are not careful, before they make up their minds there will be no fish left!"

A Response to the Gibraltar Federation of Sea Anglers?

A week ago, the Gibraltar Federation of Sea Anglers (GFSA) went public with its concerns over the lack of marine protection and fishing regulations despite 16 years of queries to the Government. Meanwhile, the GFSA said, the exploitation of the sea has become so excessive that immediate action was needed in order to save local marine biodiversity.

This public statement has received a positive public response by both political party PDP and our sister charity, the Gibraltar Ornithological & Natural History Society (GONHS), which has campaigned for marine protection for more than a decade.
True, the Opposition does not refer to the GFSA. Yet, one could assume that the GSLP's statement might be inspired by the latest press releases regarding the exploitation of the sea.

Against Plans To Open Dolphinarium In Gibraltar

A Facebook group has been made in order to protest against these plans. We believe it is wrong to keep dolphins in captivity for our amusement. Besides, tourists can already watch wild-living Common dolphins, Bottlenose dolphins and Striped dolphins in the Bay of Gibraltar.

So far the public seems to be unaware of these plans. However, if they go ahead, it will not only have a significant impact on a marine habitat protected by EU Law and on the captured dolphins themselves, but also on Gibraltar's infrastructure: Some of the last remaining beaches would be turned into a tourist attraction. A lot of traffic could be expected to be channelled through residential areas and past local schools.

A Dolphin's Life In a Dolphinarium

Opposed to public opinion, dolphins in dolphinariums do not live in a protected environment. True, apart from performing tricks, they might also be of therapeutical value to humans in a "swim with the dolphins" experience, but the costs are high: As highlighted by GONHS on the facebook page, it has to be taken into account that half of all captured dolphins die within the first two years of captivity; survivors last an average of five years; the average life span of a dolphin in the wild is 45 years.

Have a look at the following trailer, Winner of the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. It follows a high-tech dive team on a mission to discover the truth about the international dolphin capture trade: The Cove Trailer.