Irish fishing representatives meet Russian ambassador over military exercises

The Russian artillery drills at the start of February will take place in international waters but within Irish-controlled airspace.

Cate McCurry
Thursday 27 January 2022 12:29
Brendan Byrne, left, CEO of the Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association, and Patrick Murphy, CEO of the Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation, outside the Russian embassy in Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)
Brendan Byrne, left, CEO of the Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association, and Patrick Murphy, CEO of the Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation, outside the Russian embassy in Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

Representatives of the Irish fishing industry are meeting the Russian ambassador amid an ongoing row about navy exercises off the Irish coast.

The Russian artillery drills at the start of February will take place in international waters but within Irish-controlled airspace and the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

The Department of Transport has issued a marine notice that the Russian navy is set to carry out manoeuvres off the south-west coast of Ireland from next Thursday.

Fishermen are raising their own concerns with the Russian ambassador to Ireland Yury Filatov at the embassy in Dublin.

Russian ambassador to Ireland Yury Filatov (Niall Carson/PA)

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Patrick Murphy chief executive of the Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation, said he is concerned about the damage military exercises will cause to the area.

He said the group wanted Russian navy exercises to move away from the fishing grounds used by Irish boats.

Mr Murphy said Irish fishing trawlers will be in the area from February 1.

“We are always concerned about safety when it comes to sea environments,” he said.

“I have personally lost family members and friends to the sea. Of course we are aware of this, but we have been asked to highlight this because of all our concerns.

“No-one in the Government contacted us or informed us about the exercises.

“We found information from a Russia website that explained all of what was happening well before it came out publicly.

Brendan Byrne, left, CEO of the Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association, and Patrick Murphy, CEO of the Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation, outside the Russian embassy in Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

“No-one picked up the phone to us. Most fishermen are 21 days at sea, they have a right to do their business without the worry of missiles or rockets launching.”

Brendan Byrne, chief executive of the Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association (IFPEA), defended plans to travel to the area where the military exercises are to take place.

“How can it be reckless to defend your livelihood? What we are fighting for is basic rights for the Irish fishing industry,” Mr Byrne said.

“We are doing nothing different this year as we have been doing for hundreds of years.

We are here on behalf of our sector to tell the Russians that traditionally we are there, we are there currently and to watch in their actions

Brendan Byrne, Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association

“There was a failure by Government to communicate to us and there is a lack of understanding of the value of these fishing grounds.

“We are here to explore the options of Russia to facilitate the Irish fishing industry.

“I don’t think the Russians intended to go into one of the most lucrative fishing grounds for the Irish. That was an unforeseen consequence.

“We are here on behalf of our sector to tell the Russians that traditionally we are there, we are there currently and to watch in their actions.”

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