Irish fishermen plan to ‘disrupt’ Russian military exercise as tensions rise

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Fishermen have pledged to "peacefully disrupt" a planned Russian navy exercise that is set to take place 150 miles off the coast of Ireland.

The war games, coming as tensions are running high between the West and Russia over Ukraine, have drawn protests from Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney but he admits there’s little that the Irish government can do.

He conceded: "Russia can of course undertake military exercises in international waters, but the fact that they're choosing to do it on the western borders of the EU, off the Irish coast, is something that in our view is simply not welcome and not wanted right now, particularly in the coming weeks."

But the Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation say the area off the County Cork coast is "very important" for fishermen and vowed to hit back.

Fishermen have threatened to throw a spanner in the works after claimin the huge Russian naval presence threatens biodiversity and marine life.

The organisation’s chief executive officer Patrick Murphy said that three fishing boats would be sent to disrupt the operation to let Russia know "that we will be fishing in our traditional fishing areas and if this has an impact on their exercise this would be considered a peaceful protest”.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, he said: ”Can you imagine if the Russians were applying to go onto the mainland of Ireland to go launching rockets, how far would they get with that?”

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"It's no different to fishermen," Mr Murphy added. "This is our ground, this is our farm, this is where we earn our living.

"That's a one million tonne fishery, not just for ourselves but for the Russian fleet as well too.

"So there's fierce risks in this. We feel that this is serious."

He warned that the exercise threatened “the livelihoods of fishermen and fishing families all around the coastline here”.

"We should be entitled to go fishing there.” Mr Murphy said. "And if we're fishing there, then these boats– these warships – shouldn't be having war games."

He also spoke of the “real concern” that Russian submarines could become entangled in the trawlers’ nets, saying that fishing boats had been sunk in that way before.

"We're not going to face down boats, we're not going to take them on that way, but we are definitely making a point here and we want our Government to do something for us,” he said.

Simon Coveney is currently on his way to Brussels in hope of establishing a unified EU response to the issue.

Tensions are rising between the West and Russia over fears the latter is planning to invade Ukraine. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to provide troops to NATO if that happens.

  • Vladimir Putin
  • Military
  • Fishing
  • Russia

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