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Rockall agreement a ‘priority’ for Govt, Dept says

The Department of Foreign Affairs has said that reaching an agreement on issues relating to fishing access around Rockall is a “priority” for the Government.

A spokesperson from the Department said “this is an area on which we will continue to work closely with Scotland, and on which we will continue to engage with the UK government.”

It follows reports that the British government has vetoed an Irish-Scottish agreement which would allow Irish vessels to access the waters around the uninhabited islet again.

The Irish Times has reported that the day after the British election was called this week, the UK government vetoed that deal.

Rockall, which is located over 200 nautical miles northwest off the Co Donegal coast, has been the subject of a long-running dispute over the sovereignty of the fishing area.

After Britain left the European Union Common Fisheries Policy as part of Brexit, Irish vessels have been banned from fishing in the waters around it.

Irish fishermen affected by the ban since 2020 say it continues to have a huge impact on the industry here and it is causing immense pressure.

Patrick Murphy, from the Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation, told RTÉ News that the area around Rockall makes up around 3% of overall fish caught and this ban is “costing” them millions.

He said of approximately €200 million worth of fish caught, around €7 million would have been caught around Rockall.

Rockall, a seabed rich in fish, is a prime area for squid and haddock.

He said Irish fishermen seem to “be getting the worst deal out of Brexit” and added that if access had been agreed during the TCA deal, the outcome would have been different.

He said France in contrast was “on top of their game and got access to islands in the Channel” following Brexit.

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