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Wednesday 26 June 2019

Creed refuses to back down in fisheries row over Rockall

Agriculture Minister Michael Creed. Photo: Arthur Carron
Agriculture Minister Michael Creed. Photo: Arthur Carron
John Downing

John Downing

The minister responsible for fisheries has said he will not ask Irish fishermen to leave waters around Rockall, despite a renewed threat of enforcement action by the Scottish authorities.

Agriculture Minister Michael Creed, who is also in charge of marine policy, said Ireland had never recognised UK jurisdiction over Rockall. He said that since Britain had passed the Island of Rockall Act in 1972, it had never sought to enforce a 12-mile (20km) exclusion zone.

Mr Creed said Ireland had a right to fish there under EU common fisheries law and that it had a quota known as Rockall Haddock Quota.

He said it was ironic that Scotland, whose voters backed remain by more than 60pc, should invoke Brexit at this stage to push their fishermen's case.

But Scotland's rural economy minister told RTÉ radio yesterday that Irish vessels could be boarded if they continue to fish the waters around Rockall.

The Scottish government last week revived an old row about the tiny outcrop which lies closer to Ireland than the Scottish coast, at some 400km to the north west of Donegal.

While the rock is incapable of habitation, the row is fuelled by rich fishing grounds and the unfulfilled promise of mineral wealth.

The Edinburgh authorities' threat to take action against Irish vessels, which it said are fishing illegally off Rockall, came as a surprise.

Fergus Ewing, who serves as Scotland's fisheries minister, said it was disappointing Irish fishing vessels continued to operate in the area.

Mr Ewing said that the Scottish government's threatened action was "entirely routine" and part of ongoing fishery enforcement.

Irish Independent

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