Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs has said the government is still engaged with Scotland over access to Rockall for Irish fishing boats
The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Michéal Martin, has told Sinn Féin Deputy and Spokesperson for Fisheries and the Marine, that there has been no progress made in relation to getting access back to the Rockall grounds for Irish fishing boats.
Irish fishermen have found themselves locked out of the 12 nautical mile limit since Scotland introduced the restriction on 01 January 2021. Scotland is laying claim to the barren rock which lies 228.5 nautical miles northwest of Tory Island, County Donegal, Ireland and the UK has laid claim to the uninhabitable rock since 1955 and annexed it in 1972.
Marine Scotland has been active in keeping Irish fishing vessels under scrutiny and patrols have warned boats if they come into the vicinity of the 12nm limit.
Ireland has never laid claim to Rockall but its fishing boats have traditionally fished for haddock and squid around the rock. Losing access to the grounds has been a blow for the Irish demersal fleet on top of losing valuable quota through the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), has compounded financial issues for boat owners.
Opposition party, Sinn Féin has been insistent that the Irish government regain this access for the Irish fleet, but it has been slow in acting on follow-ups to the issue, which has been frustrating.
Spokesperson for Fisheries and the Marine, Padraig Mac Lochlainn once again broached the issue in a written question to the Tánaiste requesting the status of the negotiations with the British government to reinstate access for the Irish fishing fleet to the 12-mile limit around Rockall.
The Tánaiste replied:
“My Department and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine continue to work to address issues related to Rockall, reflecting the longstanding fisheries tradition in the area.
“I last discussed the matter with Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon in November. We agreed to continue to prioritise this matter and to continue to work together to seek to resolve outstanding issues.
“Officials are also in active ongoing contact with their Scottish counterparts on possible ways forward.
“I look forward to discussing the matter with my Scottish counterpart, Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture, Angus Robertson in the near future.
“Through these engagements, the Government is seeking to address the issues involved, reflecting longstanding fisheries patterns in the area.
The Government’s position in relation to territorial claims on Rockall is consistent with longstanding Irish Government policy.”