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North Atlantic

'Increased risk of enforcement' by Scotland over Rockall fishing vessels, Government warns

It comes days after a Donegal fishing vessel was prevented from fishing in the waters around Rockall by a Marine Scotland patrol boat.

THE GOVERNMENT HAS said there remains an “increased risk” to Irish vessels fishing off Rockall in the North Atlantic after engagement with Scottish authorities. 

A statement this evening from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine comes three days after a Donegal fishing vessel was prevented from fishing in the waters around Rockall by a Marine Scotland patrol boat.

The Northern Celt vessel was boarded by officials from the agency responsible for Scotland’s fisheries on Tuesday and skipper Adrian McClenaghan was told that he can no longer fish within 12 nautical miles of the disputed outcrop. 

Rockall is a small uninhabitable rock that sits approximately 160 nautical miles west of the Scottish islands of St Kilda and 230 nautical miles to the north-west of Donegal.

It has been a source of legal and political controversy in both Ireland and the UK for several decades.

The UK claimed sovereignty over the tiny islet in 1955 and purported to annex it under its 1972 Island of Rockall Act.

Ireland has never recognised British sovereignty over the outcrop.

Last year, Scotland threatened action if Irish vessels continue to operate in the zone around Rockall.

In a statement this evening, the Department said Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney and Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue met to discuss Tuesday’s incident. 

“The Ministers are fully aware of interactions between an Irish fishing vessel, and a Marine Scotland patrol vessel in recent days. The Irish Government has been in contact with the relevant Scottish and UK authorities. 

“Through this engagement, the Irish Government is seeking to address the issues involved, reflecting the longstanding fisheries tradition in the area. Taking account of the new EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, this may also require contact with the European Commission,” the Department said. 

“In addressing these issues, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, as well as their respective officials, are considering all options for further engagement on the issues involved and are continuing to work closely together.

“While engagement continues, there  remains an increased risk of enforcement action being taken by Scottish fisheries control authorities against Irish vessels operating in the waters around Rockall at present.”

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