Fishing row breaks out between Scotland and Ireland

Rockall Image copyright Kilda Cruises

A row has broken out between Scotland and Ireland over fishing rights around the uninhabited islet of Rockall.

The Scottish government has said it will take "enforcement action" against Irish vessels found fishing within 12 miles of Rockall from Saturday.

The UK claims sovereignty over the North Atlantic outcrop but the Irish government does not recognise the claim.

Irish ministers have described Scottish government comments as "unwarranted".

However, the Scottish government said a recent increase in activity from Irish vessels around Rockall had prompted the move.

'Defend the interests'

A spokeswoman added: "Irish vessels, or any non-UK vessels for that matter, have never been allowed to fish in this way in the UK's territorial sea around Rockall and, despite undertaking extensive discussions with the Irish authorities on the matter, it is disappointing that this activity continues.

"It is our duty and obligation to defend the interests of Scottish fisheries and ensure compliance with well-established international law.

"We have provided an opportunity for the Irish government to warn their fishers not to fish illegally and hope that this opportunity is taken up as this will of course obviate the need to take enforcement action - which would otherwise be implemented to protect our fisheries' interests."

Image copyright Getty Images

Rockall is an eroded volcano that lies 260 miles (418km) west of the Western Isles and is only 30m (100ft) wide and 21m (70ft) high above the sea.

The UK claimed Rockall in 1955, but Ireland, Iceland and Denmark have previously challenged that claim.

The Irish government's minister for agriculture, food and the marine, Michael Creed said he was trying to, "avoid a situation whereby Irish fishing vessels who continue to fish for haddock, squid and other species in the 12-mile area around Rockall are under the unwarranted threat of 'enforcement action' by the Scottish government".

He added: "However, following this sustained unilateral action by them, I have no option but to put our fishing industry on notice of the stated intention of the Scottish government."

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