Fishing industry representatives to meet Russian ambassador over planned military exercises

Fishing industry representatives to meet Russian ambassador over planned military exercises

Patrick Murphy of the Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation.

Fishing industry representatives will today meet the Russian ambassador to discuss the Russian navy's planned military exercises off the southwest coast of Ireland.

Yuriy Filatov is to address concerns raised earlier in the week by the Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation.

CEO Patrick Murphy said on Tuesday that members plan to prevent what he described as “catastrophic environmental damage” from the proposed exercise due to take place off the Irish coast in early February.

He drew attention to the impact that military sonar and live missile launches will have on the annual migratory path and breeding season of fish like mackerel, tuna, and blue whiting in the waters of Ireland's continental shelf while also causing "untold damage" to marine wildlife like whales and dolphins.

"As CEO, I, Patrick Murphy have instructions to plan a peaceful protest that may disrupt these Russian military exercises due to take place during the first week of February in Ireland's [exclusive economic zone]."

And he said that it was his understanding that live-fire exercises cannot take place if his members' vessels are engaged in fishing in the area.

"So we are discussing a plan aimed at a peaceful protest in our traditional fishing area near the proposed area of the military exercise with our vessel-owners and skippers.

We understand that an aircraft exclusion zone has been announced for the area but we have not yet received any notification of this nor any marine notice from the Irish State preventing us from fishing this area.

A spokesperson for the Russian embassy said: “Obviously, we'd like to listen to their concerns here.

“We'd like to reassure [them] every precautionary measure is followed.

“And then we will try to calm down the situation in a diplomatic way.”

Sinn Féin spokesperson on foreign affairs and defence John Brady met the Russian ambassador to Ireland yesterday, to discuss the current crisis in Ukraine, and the planned naval exercises.

“I raised the issue of the exercises planned for off our Southern coast next week with ambassador [Yury] Filatov, voicing the opposition of Sinn Féin to [them],” he told the Dáil.

“I have also previously spoken out against similar exercises conducted by the British navy off the coast of Donegal when Irish fishing trawlers were forced from the area by the British.

"Such exercises also carry a threat to marine biodiversity and wildlife.

"Indeed, under current legislation in Britain, the Royal Navy are required to consult with conservation groups to ensure their activities do not endanger wildlife in operations.

“But when they enter Irish waters they are under no such requirements.”

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