Spanish and Gibraltarian police have clashed once more over fishing rights in the waters around the Rock.
For two nights in a row police from both countries have been patrolling the water that Gibraltar claim is theirs, and Spain claim is Spanish.
Reports suggest that Royal Gibraltar Police boats surrounded three Spanish fishing vessels after they cast their nets close to Gibraltar harbour the previous night.
The Gibraltarian news agency said several Spanish Guardia Civil boats then appeared and seemed to assist the fishermen, despite being ordered to leave by the Gibraltarian police.
A quick change of heart followed and the Spanish boats left the area after a Royal Navy vessel arrived and reiterated the order to leave.
Gibraltarian police say the Spanish fishing boats were using large nets which is illegal in the area due to environmental law but Spain claims sovereignty over the British colony and ministers support the rights of the Spanish boats to fish there.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague is due to meet his Spanish counterpart in London on Tuesday and the long-running dispute is unlikely to be ignored. However, Spain’s foreign ministry made assurances that the dispute will not affect its “excellent” relationship with Britain.
“Spain hopes that these incidents will not repeat themselves and that the question of legitimate fishing rights can be resolved through collaboration and negotiation,” said a spokesman for the Spanish foreign ministry.
The UK has seen Gibraltar as a colony since 1713 when it was ceded to Britain “in perpetuity” under the Treaty of Utrecht following the capture of the island from the Spanish in 1704 during the War of the Spanish Succession when it was taken by Anglo-Dutch forces.