Monday 21 October 2019

Scotland threatens to stop Irish ships fishing near Rockall

Rockall: disputed territory
Rockall: disputed territory
Gareth Morgan

Gareth Morgan

A FISHERIES dispute has broken out between Ireland and Scotland, focusing on the area around the territory of Rockall.

The Scottish government raised the issue of access to the 12-mile area around Rockall following the Brexit referendum.

Now Irish ministers have received a formal letter from a Scottish official stating it will deploy vessels to take "enforcement action" against Irish ships found fishing within 12 miles of Rockall.

Jurisdiction over the 12-mile area around Rockall, which is about 400km north-west of Ireland, has long been disputed.

The position of the Irish Government is that the waters around Rockall form part of union waters under the Common Fisheries Policy. This grants the principle of equal access for the vessels of all EU member states.

Irish vessels have operated in the Rockall zone for decades fishing haddock, squid and other species.

"Following this sustained unilateral action by them, I have no option but to put our fishing industry on notice of the stated intention of the Scottish government," said Agriculture Minister Michael Creed.

"I held a difficult but necessary meeting today with our fishing industry representatives. I am very disappointed to have had to make them aware of the risk of enforcement action against them for fishing legitimately in the waters around Rockall. The industry representatives understood the situation facing Irish vessels but are justifiably concerned at this action being taken."

Tánaiste Simon Coveney added that "the long-standing position of the Irish Government is that Irish vessels are entitled to access to Rockall waters.

"We have never recognised UK sovereignty over Rockall and accordingly we have not recognised a territorial sea around it either."

Irish Independent

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