Canada and Spain take fish war to UN

Canada and Spain remained bitterly at odds over fisheries policy at the start of a United Nations conservation conference in New York yesterday, hours after renewed skirmishing between their vessels in the North Atlantic.

Two weeks after Canada prompted international uproar and enraged the European Union by arresting a Spanish trawler, the Estai, outside its 200-mile territorial limit on the edge of the Grand Banks, its patrol boats again engaged vessels from Spain on Sunday, cutting the nets of one.

The fresh clash, condemned by the EU yesterday as an "act of international piracy", raised the temperature at the start of the conference, which aims to establish an international convention to regulate fishing activities on the high seas, beyond national 200-mile limits.

Fishermen in the Grand Banks area on Sunday said that only the presence of a Spanish patrol ship, the Vigia, prevented Canadian officials from boarding one of the trawlers. "We are just waiting for some disaster to happen to one of us, for someone to get killed," a Spanish trawler skipper told Canadian radio. "That's all that's left to happen."

Brian Tobin, the Canadian Fisheries Minister, defended his government's actions at the start of the UN meeting, saying it had no choice but to intervene even beyond the 200-mile limit to protect stocks. "We could not watch straddling stocks on the Grand Banks meet their ultimate destruction", he argued, insisting that Canada "took no pride" in its unilateral stance. Mr Tobin repeated the charges laid against the Estai, released 10 days ago after its owners posted bail of 500,000 Canadian dollars (£230,000). These include claims that it was keeping a secret log-book and was using mesh sizes well below those allowed under present laws.

The charges were rebutted by the EU Fisheries Commissioner, Emma Bonino, also in New York, who accused Canada of acting like a self-appointed Wild West sheriff in seizing the Estai.

Mr Tobin announced he had arrived in New York with the net of the Estai, which measures the height of a 17-storey building, and intended to present it to Ms Bonino today, with some of the juvenile fish found inside it.

Meanwhile, the director for fisheries of the Spanish government, Raphael Conde, dismissed any idea that after Sunday's clashes the Spanish vessels would finally withdraw from the disputed areas. "Why should we? We are not fishing illegally," he told reporters.

The row could give new urgency to the UN talks, which have been going on already for two years.

Canada is pushing for agreement on a new international convention precisely to introduce controls on the kind of high-seas fishing beyond 200-mile coastal limits that is at the heart of the dispute with Spain. Such a convention would be legally binding, with tough punishment for vessels and countries found to be violating its provisions.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Packaging Operatives

£7 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for two indivi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee / Graduate Helpdesk Analyst

£20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

Recruitment Genius: Estimator

£28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a major supplier of buil...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£28000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas