SWFPA chief warns EU vessels not to enter Rockall 12-mile limit as they are carrying on IUU fishing
The chief of the Scottish White Fish Producers Association has warned EU vessels not to operate in the UK’s 12-mile zone at Rockall as they are carrying on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
On Saturday 15 May, Mike Park OBE posted a tweet from a screenshot which came to him via a SWFPA member showing an Irish-registered fishing trawler operating inside the 12-nautical mile limit at Rockall.
Since the start of 2021, in the post-Brexit era, EU-registered fishing vessels have been banned from entering the 12-mile zone around the rock and in the past five-month there have been claims that Irish fishing boats have breached the limit on several occasions. Irish fishers claim that Rockall is part of their traditional fishing grounds and they do not concede to the UK’s claim to the fishing rights in the area.
Mr Park called for action to be taken against the fishing vessel owners saying that the catch should be confiscated, and boat owners reprimanded for carrying out IUU fishing operations in UK waters.
The SWFPA chief said that Marine Scotland has been notified of the incident involving the trawler and several other Irish-registered vessels that have been recorded operating inside the UK’s limit.
“There have been some incursions up to five-miles inside the 12 -mile limit,” says Mr Park, “It just so happens that I was sent a screenshot of that particular vessel at that time, but there has been reports of southern Irish vessels going in up to five-miles inside the 12-mile limit.
“Where there are have been incursions and that goes against the grain just now, when obviously there’s no rights to enter by EU vessels to enter anywhere within 12 mile, other than those that were arranged through the TCA, which is predominantly in English Channel.”
Last week, at several Virtual Townhalls held by the Irish Minister for the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD, the Minister was questioned about access for Irish fishing vessels to Rockall grounds and he replied that his Department and the Irish Government are working towards a diplomatic solution that would allow Irish vessels back onto the grounds.
“It’s up to the governments whether they want to negotiate any agreement on the issue but in the absence of any agreement then it is illegal fishing,” notes Mr Park.
“We have no agreement with Norway or the Faroes right now, but we would not think for one minute of going into Norwegian of Faroese waters to fish. It would be highly illegal.”
When The Fishing Daily asked Marine Scotland about the investigation, a Scottish Government spokesperson said:
“The territorial waters around Rockall continue to be monitored for any breaches in licence conditions and other requirements using a variety of surveillance platforms and any intelligence received is actively followed up.”
by Oliver McBride