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Displaying items by tag: Russia

Killybegs fishers have lashed out at a deal between the Faroe Islands and Moscow that they say creates a “loophole” for Russian trawlers to muscle in on the blue whiting fishery around Irish waters.

According to The Irish Times, the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation (KFO) has called on the Government and European Commission to impose sanctions on the North Atlantic island country over the “immoral” deal that poses “an existential threat to the catch of blue whiting in Irish waters”.

The organisation’s chief executive also accused the Faroes of “aiding and abetting” the Russian invasion of Ukraine by way of the deal, which allows its own vessels to fish for cod in Russian waters.

The Irish Times has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Fishing

Russian vessels will be denied entry into Irish ports after this Saturday 16 April on the foot of sanctions from the European Union amid the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

As the latest Marine Notice from the Department of Transport outlines, all Irish ports are directed to deny entry to any ship, yacht or recreational craft registered under the flag of Russia.

The ban also applies to any such vessel that changed the registration or flag of the vessel from the Russian Federation to another state on or after 24 February this year.

Exceptions may be made, pending approval by the relevant authorities, for the transport of fossil fuels; metals and chemicals; pharmaceutical, medical, agricultural and food products; and humanitarian purposes.

The ban is also waived in the case of a vessel in need of assistance seeking a place of refuge, of an emergency port call for reasons of maritime safety, or for saving life at sea.

Further details can be found in Marine Notice No 19 of 2022, attached below.

Published in Irish Ports

A superyacht owned by a Russian billionaire businessman has been seized by Italian police in the same week as he was targeted by EU sanctions in the wake of the war in Ukraine.

As the Guardian reports, mining magnate Alexei Mordashov’s 65m yacht Lady M was impounded in the port of Imperia, a city on Italy’s Ligurian Sea coast.

Two other Russian oligarchs also had yachts seized in Imperia and La Ciotat, between Nice and Toulon in France, as the European Union moved to freeze assets in reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine which began in 24 February.

Lady M — which visited Belfast and Cumbria in 2017 — was delivered in 2013 by US yacht builder Palmer Johnson and is valued by Forbes magazine at some $27 million.

The Guardian has more on the story HERE.

Published in Superyachts
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Spain’s Marca is reporting that a Ukrainian sailor was arrested over the weekend for attempting to sink the superyacht owned by his Russian employer.

The €7 million Lady Anastasia — which was partially sunk at Port Adriano in Mallorca — is the property of Alexander Mijeev, the head of a Russian state-owned military weapons company.

It’s emerged that a Ukrainian national arrested at the scene has worked on the luxury yacht for a decade.

And he claims he was spurred into action by news reports of a Russian missile strike on a block of flats in Kyiv amid the ongoing crisis in the country.

He reportedly told offers of the Civil Guard upon his arrest: “The owner of this boat is a criminal who makes a living selling weapons and now they kill Ukrainians."

Marca has more on the story HERE.

Published in Superyachts

The crew of Jarlath Cunnane’s expedition yacht Northabout which sailed expeditions to the Northwest and Northeast Passages is to protest outside the Russian Embassy in Dublin on Wednesday at 2 pm for one hour to highlight the plight of a jailed Russian researcher, historian and human rights activist, Yuri Dmitriev, who met them in the city of Petrozavodsk, on the shores of Lake Onega. He has been jailed by the Russian Government because his research work is ensuring that the history of Soviet terror is known and remembered, according to Dr Michael Brogan, a leading Galway Hooker owner and sailor and who was on the Northabout crew.

The Northabout crew, under the banner “Grandfathers for Human Rights and friends of Russian Political prisoner Yuri Dmitriev,” will hold the silent vigil, he told Afloat, “because he has paid a high price for highlighting Stalin’s reign of terror, which Mr Putin wants to whitewash from Russian history.”

“In 2012, Irish Sailing Vessel, Northabout sailed to Russia from Westport to navigate the White Sea/ Baltic Canal.Constructed largely on Stalin’s instigation, the Canal is 227 kilometres long and includes nineteen locks and fifteen dams; all built in twenty months (November 1931 - July 1933). An endless supply of slave labour was available and the number of workers who died will never be known.

“Yuri Dmitriev, Gulag researcher, historian and human rights activist spent thirty years ensuring that the history of Soviet terror is known and remembered. He has dedicated most of his life to documenting the burial sites (with dates, names and each victim’s story), which included the mass graves at Sandarmokh, Krasny Bor and the Solovetsky Islands. He has also published books of remembrance with details of thousands of victims. (From the records of one field hospital alone, he documented the deaths of 10,000 prisoners working on the eighth lock in the winter of 1932.)

“The Crew of Northabout met up with Yuri Dmitriev in the city of Petrozavodsk, on the shores of Lake Onega. He took us to Sandarmokh forest and other burial sites around the area, where we met relatives of some of the victims. Dmitriev is trying to ensure that Russia remembers its past, and the importance of truth to prevent new atrocities.

He has paid a high price for highlighting Stalin’s reign of terror, which Mr. Putin wants to whitewash from Russian history. Yuri was arrested on trumped-up charges in 2016 and was sentenced firstly to three and a half years which - on appeal - was increased to thirteen years. This last sentence was appealed by the prosecutor and on Monday, December 27th, his sentence was further increased to fifteen years. Twenty-four hours after Dmitriev's verdict, Russia's Supreme Court shut down Memorial; the country's most prominent human rights group, which chronicled Stalin-era purges. This same Court has refused to review Dmitriev's case which, at close to 66 years of age amounts almost to a death sentence.

“The present administration is once again setting out to erase the memory of the victims as if they never existed, the future looks grim for anyone who might speak up for the truth of Russia's dark history.”

The crew of Northabout was: Jarlath Cunnane, Michael Brogan, Paddy Barry, Gary Finnegan, Colm Brogan, Kevin Cronin.

Published in Cruising
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Ireland has the legal right to say “no” to Russia or any other state seeking to conduct military exercises within an exclusive economic zone, an international maritime law expert has said.

As The Times Ireland edition reports, Prof Clive Symmons, retired lecturer in maritime law at Trinity College Dublin (TCD), says the Government was “incorrect” in stating last month that Russia was legally within its rights to conduct military exercises within Ireland’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

On January 24th, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said that while the military exercises were “not welcome”, Ireland did not have the powers to prevent the exercises from happening.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon CoveneyMinister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney

Last Saturday, Mr Coveney confirmed that Russian naval exercises due to take place later this week would be relocated outside of Ireland’s EEZ after he had written to the Russian defence minister Sergey Shoigu requesting a “reconsideration”.

Russian ambassador to Ireland Yuriy Filatov confirmed the relocation as a “gesture of goodwill”, following requests from the Irish government and the Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation.

Russian ambassador to Ireland Yuriy FilatovRussian ambassador to Ireland Yuriy Filatov

The ambassador has accepted an invitation to appear before the Oireachtas foreign affairs committee today.

Prof Symmons said that military use of the sea was not included in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and remained a “grey area” that allowed for varied interpretations.

He said that in practical terms, some states like the US claim such activity is still exercisable in another state's EEZ, even without its consent as an implied high seas freedom.

However, other states such as China claim it is forbidden in their EEZ, he said.

“For these reasons, I think Mr Coveney was mistaken in his seemingly ready acceptance of such activity being legal in the Irish EEZ,” Prof Symmons said.

Prof Symmons said that a foreign state has “no express right in UNCLOS to conduct any military activities (let alone naval exercises) in the EEZ of another state without its permission”, and such exercises are “not an implied high seas freedom in this context”.

However, a coastal state may also have no clear right under the same convention to “interfere with military/naval activities”, and may be obliged to permit high seas navigational freedoms in relation to military vessels transiting.

Prof Symmons explained that EEZ rights are defined under Articles 56 (2), 58 and 59 of the UN convention as being sovereign for “the purpose of exploring and exploiting, conserving and managing the natural resources, whether living or non-living".

He said that as the initial Russian notification to exercise 240 km off the Irish coast involved an important Irish EEZ fishing area, this gave Ireland the right to object.

The UN convention also refers to "unattributed rights", where a dispute arises over the rights of the EEZ state and others.

Read more in The Times here

Published in Fishing
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The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) says it supports the call for a moratorium on military exercises within Ireland’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

Both the Irish South and West Fish Producers’ Organisation (IS&WFPO) and the Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association (IFPEA) have appealed for the Government to introduce a 10-year halt on any future manoeuvres within the area, according to The Skipper.

It follows Russia’s decision, as a “gesture of goodwill”, to relocate live-fire drills that had been planned for this week in international waters but within the Irish EEZ, some 240km off the Cork coast.

The outcome was hailed as a victory for diplomacy on the part of Ireland’s fishing industry, with the EU fisheries commissioner paying tribute at the weekend.

There had been fears of confrontation between Irish trawlers and Russian naval vessels in the Atlantic as long-standing fishing grounds on the continental shelf adjoin the area previously earmarked for the military exercises.

“I think the Russian have set a precedent now…that we need to bring in a 10-year moratorium to stop all military exercises in the Irish EEZ,” IFPEA chief executive Brendan Byrne told Highland Radio.

“We can’t bring in an outright ban [due to international law] but we have have the right…to bring in the moratorium based on the eco-sensitivity of the area, based on the biological importance of it to [the] sea fishery which is mackerel, in this case, or nephrops and the entire environmental argument, notwithstanding the displacement of fishing.”

The IWDG said it supports fishers’ right “to work without feeling threatened by military exercises” and that “additionally such a moratorium would also greatly reduce the threat these exercises pose to whales and dolphins”.

It added: “While on this occasion the Russian navy notified the State of their intentions, UK and NATO vessels regularly carry out naval exercises within the Irish EEZ.

“They have also been known to use active sonar within the Irish EEZ and such events have been linked to the mass mortality of deep-diving whale species in Irish waters, most recently in 2018 with an unusual mortality event of Cuvier’s beaked whales in Ireland and Scotland.

“Mass strandings and inshore sightings of northern bottlenose whales and Sowerby’s beaked whales, which occurred in 2020, may also have been linked to naval activity.”

In light of this, the IWDG is “proposing four additional Marine Protected Areas for deep-diving cetaceans along the slopes of the Rockall Canyon, Porcupine Seabight and Whittard Canyon System”.

The marine wildlife charity also expressed its fears that the Northeast Atlantic “has become a global hotspot” for beaked whale strandings, which appear to be increasing in both magnitude and frequency”.

It adds: “Given the vulnerability of beaked whales to underwater noise, supported by significant advances in our understanding of the impacts of military sonar on these animals, it appears ever more likely that military sonars used in or adjacent to important beaked whale habitats are a significant factor in these mortalities.”

Meanwhile, concerns remain among environmentalists for marine wildlife in the vicinity of wherever Russia moves its planned naval and air force drills.

Speaking to Claire Byrne on RTÉ Radio 1’s Today programme, Ken O’Sullivan, the documentary maker behind Ireland’s Deep Atlantic, said: “Exploding bombs in the ocean is never a good thing to do, for many reasons.”

RTÉ Radio 1 has the full interview HERE.

Published in Fishing
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The EU’s fisheries commissioner has paid tribute to Irish fishermen for their role in shifting the location of Russian military exercises outside the Irish exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

In a tweet, Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius said that “Irish fishermen got their diplomatic game on! “

“They managed to stop Russian military exercises that would undermine their activities and marine life,” he said.

“ Real custodians of the sea on duty! The world could use more of you!” the commissioner, who holds the environment, oceans and fisheries portfolio, tweeted.

He was responding to a report on Irish Central headlined “Irish fishermen defeat the Russian navy”.

The Russian ambassador to Ireland has credited both the Irish South and West Fish Producers’ Organisation (IS&WFPO) and the Irish government with its decision to relocate planned military exercises outside the Irish Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

In a statement on Saturday, Ambassador Yuriy Filatov said that the Russian Federation’s defence minister Sergey Shoigu has decided “as a gesture of goodwill” to relocate exercises on February 3rd to 8th to an area outside the Irish EEZ.

The military exercises had been planned to take place some 240 km off the Irish southwest coast, within the Irish EEZ.

This had led to serious concerns among fishermen about the impact on their economic activity, while environmental groups expressed fears about the impact on marine life, including cetaceans.

North American news network CNN has described the latest development as a victory for Irish fishermen.

“Russians blink after Irish fishermen’s vow to block Navy war games,” CNN said in a headline to the report by CNN correspondent Donie O’Sullivan, broadcast live from Castletownbere, Co Cork on Saturday.

IS&WFPO chief executive Patrick Murphy, who met the Russian ambassador to Ireland over the issue last week along with Irish Fish Processors’ and Exporters’ Association chief executive Brendan Byrne, has stated that Irish fishing vessels were not protesting, but were asserting their right to fish their quota on their traditional grounds.

The breakthrough on Saturday was confirmed by Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney,m who said that he had written to his counterpart, the Russian Federation’s defence minister, this week, “to request a reconsideration of naval exercises off the Irish coast”.

“This evening I received a letter confirming the Russian exercises will be relocated outside of Ireland’s EEZ. I welcome this response,” Coveney tweeted.

"We don’t know where they plan to have military exercises, but it certainly won’t be in international waters that Ireland has responsibility for,” Mr Coveney told RTÉ News.

Ireland would try be a voice for compromise to help avoid a war between Russia and Ukraine describing any conflict as potentially being the largest land war in Europe since the second world war, he said.

Published in Naval Visits
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Cork fishermen have gone viral after appearing on a worldwide news broadcast to discuss Russia’s planned offshore military drills.

CNN correspondent Donie O’Sullivan — who hails from Kerry — tweeted a clip of the interview he conducted with the fishers in Castletownbere last night (Saturday 29 January) following Russia’s agreement to move its planned live-fire exercises out of Ireland’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

Yesterday evening, Foreign Affairs and Defence Minister Simon Coveney confirmed the move. This was followed by a statement from the Russian ambassador which described the decision to relocate the exercises as “a gesture of goodwill” following requests from the Irish Government and the Irish South and West Fish Producers’ Association (IS&WFPO).

The ambassador met with fishing industry representatives on Thursday (27 January) to hear their concerns surrounding the manoeuvres, which had been planned for an area in international waters on the continental shelf but within Ireland’s EEZ and close to important fishing grounds.

O’Sullivan was joined on air by Alan Carleton and Patrick Murphy, the latter of whom was at the meeting with Ambassador Yuriy Filatov in Dublin.

On the prospect of Irish trawlers coming face-to-face with the Russian navy, Murphy said: “There’s enough families around here that have lost their loved ones to the sea, and that’s enough of a danger to be facing without going out and facing a military exercise.”

He added: “We have to thank the Russians for acknowledging that we played a small part in this. That’s good for us.”

Carleton, meanwhile, expressed his relief that fish stocks in the area will no longer be impacted “as live fire will case problems with the fish”.

Asked by O’Sullivan if the move is proof that fishermen diplomacy works, Murphy resoponded: “It seems to.”

Regarding the impact on marine wildlife, the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group said they are pleased with the decision “which should reduce exposure of deep-diving species along the shelf edge to this exercise.

“We hope future military exercises e.g. by the UK and NATO will also considered their environmental impacts,” the group added.

Published in Fishing
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Russian military exercises planned for next week will no longer take place within Ireland’s Exclusive Economic Zone, the Foreign Affairs Minister has confirmed.

In a tweet published this evening (Saturday 29 January), Simon Coveney — who is also Minister for Defence — said: “This week I wrote to my counterpart, the Minister of Defence of Russia, to request a reconsideration of naval exercises off the Irish coast. This evening I received a letter confirming the Russian exercises will be relocated outside of Ireland’s EEZ. I welcome this response.”

The planned manoeuvres, which will include live-fire exercised by Russia’s navy and air force, have been the subject of much controversy in recent days.

Originally proposed for an area some 240km southwest of Cork, in international waters but within Ireland’s EEZ, the plans sparked concerns among the Irish fishing fleet and conversationists alike over the potential impact on important fishing grounds and habitats for vulnerable marine wildlife.

A marine craft advisory over “serious safety risks” surrounding the planned military drills was published by the Department of Transport, before a “successful and positive meeting” between fishing industry representatives and the Russian ambassador on Thursday.

Published in News Update
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