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Commercial Fishing



SFF throws support behind Scottish Government on Rockall dispute. The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) has thrown its support behind moves by the Scottish Government’s robust stance on Rockall where Irish fishing vessels are operating within 12 nautical miles of the rock.

Rockall lies 260 miles (418km) west of the Western Isles and is only 100ft (30m) wide and 70ft (21m) high above the sea.

The UK claimed Rockall in 1955, but Ireland, Iceland and Denmark have previously challenged that claim.

This recent row between Scotland and Ireland broke out after increased activity from Irish vessels around Rockall. The Scottish Government says these are UK territorial waters and fishing within 12 miles of Rockall is illegal and that Scotland intends to enforce the law through fishery protection patrols.

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the SFF, said: “We fully support the Scottish Government’s stance on Rockall – Irish vessels have no legal right to fish within 12 nautical miles.

“The area is recognised in UK law as part of Scottish territorial waters and hosts multi-million pound haddock, monkfish and squid fisheries that are hugely important to our fleet.

“The Scottish Government is right to impose compliance, full stop. But at a time when we are moving towards independent Coastal State status it lays down a benchmark for the future.”

John O’Kane, of Greencastle Fishermen’s Co-Operative in Ireland, said three Irish skippers were continuing to fish in the area, as they had done for the past 30 years.

Speaking to RTÉ, Mr O’Kane said the Irish boats were inside the 12-mile exclusion zone but the fishermen said there had been no sign of any naval patrols.

“They are going to continue fishing there,” he said. “They have been fishing there for the last five months this year and for the last 30 years. Our co-op has been in existence for 30 years and during that period of time we have had boats off Rockall every single year.

“They are going to see out their trips. They have no intention of leaving there at the moment.

“What the Scots have done is brought in a rule that is against the law of the sea. It is against EU law and has no legal standing whatsoever.”