The Russian Ambasssador has agreed to move planned Naval Exercises further south after a meeting with Irish fishing industry representatives today
Irish fishing industry representatives, Patrick Murphy from the Irish South & West Fish Producers Organisation and Brendan Byrne of the Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association held talks today with the Russian Ambassador concerning his country’s Naval Exercises to be held off the southwest coast of Ireland at the start of February.
The meeting lasted 50 minutes in the Russian Embassy in Dublin. A number of options were discussed but it is believed that they came to an understanding that the Russians will hold their exercises further to the south away from fishing grounds. Originally, the Russian government had declared that the Naval Exercises would be held 260km southwest of Ireland, but the new location has not been revealed.
It is reported that the Russian Ambassador, Yuri Filatov was courteous and extremely helpful to the Irish fishing representatives. He said that the fishing grounds would be open to Irish fishing vessels and said he would try to get assurances from Moscow that military sonar would not be deployed by Russian ships during the exercises but could not give the same assurance about observing NATO submarines and warships.
Speaking after the meeting, Brendan Byrne of the IFPEA said they had reached “an accommodation where there is a pathway for coexistence for the naval exercises and for our fishing fleet” during the planned military drills next week.
He said a joint proposal for a “buffer zone” between the two sides would be used, pending final sign-off from the Russian government.
He said, “Again, there’s a vast area earmarked for this naval exercise. There’s a vast area where we’ll be traditionally fishing in, and when we now have an agreement of understanding of coexistence, the technical issues and the technicalities of this can be worked out in a one-to-one and I’m confident that there’s clear sight of that.”
On the meeting Patrick Murphy said, “We’ve been given assurances by the Ambassador that this will be safe.”
“He accepted our concerns and accepted the validity of what we’re entitled to do, which is to go fishing within our fishing grounds.”
Last night, Patrick Murphy called the issuing of a Marine Notice from the Department of Transport (Important Safety Information on Conduct of Naval Manoeuvres Issued) a “Disgrace”.
The Marine Notice was issued to Irish vessels to avoid the area where the exercise was being conducted. The Notice came after the IS&WFPO threatened to take 60 fishing vessels into the area where the exercises were to be held between 03 and 08 February.
The Russian Federation has advised that the exercises will include naval artillery and the launching of rockets, which would endanger non-military craft in the area.
Ireland could request the Russian Federation not to hold the naval exercise in the area under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, Article 56 (b) (iii) “the protection and preservation of the marine environment”, because the area picked by the Russian falls within Ireland’s Exclusive Economic Zone.
by Oliver McBride