Tensions over fishing rights around Rockall appear to be flaring up again in Ireland, with claims that the Donegal fishing fleet is losing up to a third of its income.
Donegal TD Pádraig Mac Lochlainn has claimed the Greencastle fishing fleet has seen their income slashed by 30% due to Britain’s “outrageous” Rockall blockade.
He slammed the ban on Irish boats fishing on their traditional grounds as “absolute nonsense”.
Speaking in Dáil Éireann before the St. Patrick’s week recess, Deputy Mac Lochlainn said: “This is outrageous. There is no basis for this under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
“It is absolute nonsense. How on earth is the government tolerating this? How is it not being taken to international arbitration?
"Why did the government sign off on the Maritime Jurisdiction Act on access for the British Government to and control of the area at a time when it is negotiating to reinstate our traditional fishing grounds to our fishermen? Who on earth would tolerate that?”
Replying, Martin Heydon, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, said the matter had last been discussed with the then First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, at the end of last year.
It had been agreed to prioritise the matter and continue working together to resolve the outstanding issues.
Heydon said Ireland had never recognised the British claim to Rockall. Therefore Ireland did not recognise the 12 nautical mile territorial waters designation.
However, under the terms of the Brexit Trade & Cooperation Agreement (TCA) between the EU and the UK, Donegal fishers have not been granted fishing licences within the 12-mile limit.