British patrol boat boards Irish trawler and stops it from fishing contested Rockall waters in first post-Brexit fisheries clash

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An Irish trawler was blocked from fishing in UK waters in the first such clash since the post-Brexit trade deal was signed, it emerged last night.

The Northern Celt was boarded and its skipper told that he can no longer fish within 12 nautical miles of a contested rocky outcrop in the North Atlantic Ocean.

The skipper said that a Scottish patrol vessel told him that due to Brexit he could no longer fish around Rockall, which lies 260 miles west of Scotland’s Western Isles.

He said the area counts for 30 per cent of his annual catch.

BREAKING: Fresh dispute over #Rockall after Scottish patrol boat blocks County Donegal fishing vessel from entering its waters, with skipper told it¿s result of #Brexit Full story coming up on @rtenews @franmcnulty @seanwhelanRTE @tconnellyRTE pic.twitter.com/UToqjUpGyI

— Vincent Kearney (@vincekearney) January 5, 2021

The Scottish fisheries patrol vessel, the Jura, seen from the Northern Celt. The Donegal vessel was blocked from fishing around Rockall

The skipper said that a Scottish patrol vessel told him that due to Brexit he could no longer fish around Rockall, which lies 260 miles west of Scotland’s Western Isles

Fishing rights were a key sticking point in achieving the Christmas Eve deal. The agreement states that EU boats can continue fishing in UK waters but with British trawlers catching a steadily increased share up until 2026. 

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But Dublin has never recognised the UK’s claims of sovereignty over Rockall, leading to clashes over the rich fishing waters which surround it – not to mention the potential for gas and oil reserves.

Skipper of the Northern Celt, Adrian McClenaghan (centre), with his son, Mike McClenaghan (right) and crew member Kevin George (left)

Yesterday the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs said it was ‘aware of contact between an Irish fishing vessel and a Marine Scotland patrol vessel’. ‘We are in contact with the Scottish and UK authorities on this,’ it added. Pictured, the Northern Celt

A Scottish fisheries patrol vessel, the Jura, arrived in the area on January 1 – the day after the Brexit transition period ended. And members of its crew boarded the Northern Celt on Monday.

Skipper Adrian McClenaghan told RTE News: ‘They informed us that we could no longer fish inside the 12-mile limit of Rockall.’

But he said he had been issued with a temporary licence to fish in the area with the stipulation that as an ‘EU vessel’ it does not have an automatic entitlement. 

Yesterday the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs said it was ‘aware of contact between an Irish fishing vessel and a Marine Scotland patrol vessel’. ‘We are in contact with the Scottish and UK authorities on this,’ it added.

Marine Scotland was approached for comment.