When it comes to diplomacy the world could use more Irish fishermen says EU Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius

When it comes to diplomacy the world could use more Irish fishermen says EU Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius

EU Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevicius has praised the Irish fishing community for their efforts in preventing the Russian Navy from performing military exercises in Ireland’s EEZ.

Fishing representatives, Brendan Byrne from the Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association (IFPEA) and Patrick Murphy from the Irish South and West Fish Producer’s Organisation (IS&WFPO) met with Russian Ambassador to Ireland, Yuriy Filatov last Thursday (27 January), to discuss a planned exercise by the Russian Navy 240kms southwest of Ireland, in a highly sensitive marine area.

 Those talks resulted in the Russians moving their planned naval exercise outside the Irish EEZ.

Last week, the Russians had made an announcement of their intention to hold the exercise and the edge of the Ireland’s EEZ between the 03 and 08 February.

Whilst Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence, Simon Coveney said that the Russian plans were “not welcome”, it was left to the Irish fishing industry itself to show how foreign diplomacy worked.

Irish fishing organisation, the IS&WFPO, opposed the Russians plans as they believed that the exercise would cause damage in a highly sensitive marine area, and had said their boats would go fishing during the exercise, which caused concerns for Russia.

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The Russian Ambassador called a meeting last Thursday morning with the IS&WFPO who were joined by the IFPEA. At the meeting it was agreed that the Russians would create a buffer zone between themselves and where the fishermen were operating further north in the Porcupine area.

On Saturday (29 January), the Russian Minister of Defence made the decision to move the exercise out of the Irish EEZ and the announcement was issued by their Embassy in Dublin.

The result impressed Commissioner Sinkevicius who tweeted:

“Irish fishermen got their diplomatic game on! They managed to stop Russian military exercises that would undermine their activities & marine life. Real custodians of the sea on duty! The world could use more of you!”

Meanwhile, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence Simon Coveney has said it is hoped a report will be brought to Government within the next two weeks on the future of the Defence Forces and their current ability to defend Ireland.

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