The Government has opted not to pursue an incident where a British navy ship instructed a Donegal fishing vessel to leave grounds where it was working some 60 miles off the coast.
The 32-metre fishing vessel Marlíona, registered in Greencastle was hailed by the British navy ship HMS Lancaster on July 21st last and asked to leave the area, even though it is well within the Irish exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
The Department of Foreign Affairs said it was investigating the incident, which had been referred to the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) by the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation (KFO).
However, the department has subsequently said the location was “not within Ireland’s territorial sea and did not, therefore, infringe our sovereignty”.
“In general, it is not unusual for naval ships to ask other vessels in the vicinity to move away from an exercise location for safety reasons,” the department said.
A British navy spokesperson said that “courteous and professional exchanges between the fishing vessel and frigate operating within the designated exercise area enabled this lawful exercise to continue and conclude safely”.
“The safety of all mariners is taken extremely seriously by the Royal Navy. At no time was there a risk to safety to either the fishing vessel or submarine,” the British navy spokesperson said.
The British Directorate of Defence Communications said the ship “operated throughout in accordance with the UN Convention of the Law of Sea, having due regard for other vessels operating in the area”.
However, KFO chief executive Sean O’Donoghue has said there is now a case for the Government to state that the Irish EEZ should be protected from military training exercises by submarines on environmental grounds.
The Department of Foreign Affairs said the issue was one for the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine.Tags: