UK attempts to ban Russians from legally fishing in British waters

A Russian trawler Credit: Fish Facts/Kiran Jóanesarson

The British ambassador to Denmark is being despatched to the Faroe Islands on a mission to prevent Russia from legally trawling for fish in British waters.

Russian boats have access to a so-called “special area” of the sea, shared between the UK and Faroe Islands, because the trawlers have been granted licenses to fish there by the Faroese government.

A spokesperson for the UK government told ITV News: “We are acutely aware of Russian fishing activity in the shared UK-Faroes Special Area and have voiced our concerns to the Faroese government.

"We will categorically not license any Russian-flagged vessels to fish anywhere in UK waters, and continue to urge the Faroes to follow our lead by not permitting Russia to fish in the UK - Faroes Special Area.” It’s understood the UK delegation are holding a formal consultation with the Faroese and Danish governments to try and find a solution that will prevent the Russians from fishing the “special area”.

The threat of Russians legally fishing in UK waters for the second time since their nation invaded Ukraine has led to an angry response from UK-based fishers.

The 'special area' (highlighted in green) between Scotland and the Faroe Islands.

Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association, told ITV News: “£e welcome the planned visit to Torshavn by the UK ambassador to Denmark and hope she will use the opportunity to insist on a ban on Russian vessels.

"It is more imperative than ever that the UK should ensure no Russian vessels can fish in the joint UK-Faroe ‘special area’. Faroe has very clearly breached its moral obligations to the international community by proceeding with an agreement which gives its fishing fleet access to 12,285 tonnes of cod in the Barents Sea, 1,276 tonnes of haddock, 900 tonnes of flatfish and 4,000 tonnes of shrimp. “In return – and this is where it really sticks in the craw – Russian vessels are entitled to 72,000 tonnes of blue whiting, 13,000 tonnes of mackerel and 8,500 tonnes of herring.

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“Most of that blue whiting will come from UK waters because of a protocol agreed in 1999 between the UK and Faroe. It permits Faroe to licence Russian vessels to fish in the ‘special area’ – essentially UK waters. “Incredibly, Faroe has put sanctions in place on Russian and Belarussian vessels, with a port ban on any under the Russian flag. Yet that does not extend to fishing vessels, which continue to have access to Faroese ports.”

A spokesperson for the Faroese government told ITV News: "The government of the Faroe Islands is aware of the British government's position and is hosting a meeting of respective government representatives this week to discuss the matter."