Gibraltar could open waters to Spanish fishermen by October: Report

MADRID (REUTERS) - British overseas territory Gibraltar could open its waters to Spanish fishermen again by October, its chief minister was cited as saying on Friday, potentially offering a means to resolve a recent spat with Spain which lays claim to the rocky outpost.

Madrid reacted furiously when Gibraltar built an artificial reef in contested waters using concrete blocks and restricted access to Spanish fishermen in July.

In retaliation, Spain imposed tighter controls at its border with Gibraltar, causing long tailbacks and has threatened further action. This prompted angry words from British officials.

"As an act of good faith... I will propose that parliament introduces a change in the law so that the 59 boats can fish again based on their historical fishing practices," Gibraltar Chief Minister Fabian Picardo told Spanish newspaper El Mundo in an interview published on Friday.

The quote was verified by a Gibraltar spokesman.

Mr Picardo said Gibraltar would not remove the concrete blocks, as Spain demands, and rejected four-way talks with Spain, Britain and Andalusia, which is one of Madrid's proposals to end the standoff, as well as one-on-one talks with Britain.

Earlier this week Spain's Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo said that the border checks would continue until Spain regained confidence in Gibraltar's government.

Spain lays claim to Gibraltar, which has a population of just 30,000 and was ceded to Britain 300 years ago.

Madrid has threatened to take the issue to the United Nations, and the European Commission has agreed to examine the situation to see if Spain's controls breach EU rules.

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