Published On: Tue, Jun 11th, 2019

Rockall row: Ireland feud with Scotland erupts as Sturgeon hints at arresting fishermen | UK | News

The Scottish First Minister has defended Britain’s claim to Rockall, a rocky outcrop in the North Atlantic with strategic fishing rights.  Ms Sturgeon warned off threats from Ireland’s Simon Coveney, who said Ireland did not respect the claim to the rock, which is 240 miles from the Scottish mainland. Ms Sturgeon said Scotland’s response to Irish fishing boats around Rockall was “in line with our obligations to uphold international law”, the Irish Times reported. 

She refused to say whether arrests of Irish fishermen would take place, adding simply: “We don’t want it to come to that.” 

Ms Sturgeon also called for an “amicable and negotiated settlement” and said that despite the spat she wanted to attempt to maintain good relations with the Republic. 

The row erupted this week when Scotland threatened action on Britain’s behalf if Irish’s vessels continued to fish in the 12 mile zone around Rockall.

Her Scottish government said that they were defending the interests of the United Kingdom against “illegal activity”. 

Her stern stance on the fisheries issue comes after the Republic of Ireland yesterday lashed out at the Scots, demanding they back down over the issue surrounding the barren outcrop in the ocean. 

The Irish government does not recognise the UK’s claim over the long-disputed territory and Irish fishermen have said they have no intention of leaving the disputed waters.

Simon Coveney, Ireland’s deputy prime minister and foreign secretary, contended EU fishery grounds and the Common Fishery Policy applies to the area.

He said: “What we don’t accept is that a very small rock constitutes a sovereign territory that can have a 12 mile fishing limit set around it, that is what the Scottish government are claiming and saying.

“We know how fisheries enforcement works, we do it well here through the Irish Naval Service and the SFPA.

“We understand how Scotland enforces the fisheries rules, so I think the less we talk about boardings and potential clashes the better.

“We need to take the heat out of this decision and look for solutions, that’s what diplomacy is about.

“Scotland and Ireland are very close friends and we will work with them to try and bring an end to this, but what we won’t do is change a policy which we have had in place for decades on the back of a threat.

“Don’t confuse diplomatic language with weakness. We will support Ireland’s fishing boats.” 

The Scottish government first raised the issue of access to the area around Rockall in 2017, according to the Irish government.

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