FISHING PIRATES AND VANDALS
James Skinner reports from Vigo
land and sea disputes. A fish for fish....
Legend has it that Sir Francis Drake, during his career, looted and
burnt some of todays Galician fishing towns. Known as the all-tim
number one English pirate, his tactics must have brushed off onto the
locals if French accusations are anything to go by. It appears that
sometime towards the end of June, the trawler Le Lorien
from Brittany was attacked by the Vigo registered boats
Veracruz and Santillana de la Cabeza whilst
fishing off the Irish Box. The Spaniards not only managed to snarl the
French boats propeller, setting it helplessly adrift but neglected
any assistance as per maritime salvage procedures. So states the formal
complaint presented to the French Ministries of Agriculture and Foreign
Affairs by the owners Director, Messier Herve Jantet.
The Spanish version is obviously different. According to the President
of the Fishing Boat owners Association of Pasajes, Guipuzcoa, Sr. Martin
Aguirre, there was a minor dispute between the fishermen
regarding the use of unlawful trawling methods. The complaint
is a case of trying to inflame the situation by turning an insignificant
incident into a criminal act he added.
Whatever the eventual outcome, the fact remains that the French trawler
had to radio for help in order to be towed safely back to port whilst
the aggressors returned to their fishing chores.
On a separate and bizarre note, it is hard to imagine that a wooden
twenty-foot vintage fishing boat could become the centre of a local
territorial dispute. It so happens that such a situation developed in
southern Galicia, between the town councils of O Grove, known for its
famous clam farms and Sanxenxo, home of the Barrantes wines. A new dual
carriageway had recently been inaugurated joining both councils and
as a commemorative symbol, the mayor of O Grove installed such a vessel
on the only roundabout along its five-mile stretch. His mistake was
to paint the words O Grove on its bow. The roundabout happens
to be in Sanxenxo territory. The poor innocent fishermans tool
has already been set alight on three occasions by invisible vandals.
Both councils have agreed to iron out the dispute in an amicable manner.
As stated by one of Sanxenxos authorities: territorial
disputes should be dealt with under judiciary procedures and not by
the law of an eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth. The tragedy
is, that a beautifully restored fishing boat has been reduced to cinders,
reminiscent of a burnt out cavalry fort from an old Hollywood western.
© James Skinner. 2001