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21 Feb, 2024 15:27

Russia tears up Soviet-era fishing agreement with UK

The 1956 treaty had allowed British ships to fish in the Barents Sea
Russia tears up Soviet-era fishing agreement with UK

British fishermen will be banned from operating in the Barents Sea, one of the world’s largest fisheries for cod and haddock, under new legislation passed by the lower house of Russia’s parliament, the State Duma, on Wednesday.  

The bill, which rescinds an agreement signed between the governments of the USSR, the UK, and Northern Ireland in 1956, was passed in its third reading.   

The so-called Fisheries Agreement had allowed British ships to fish in the Barents Sea off the north coast of the Kola Peninsula. It was initially signed for a period of five years and automatically renewed every five years since neither party ever withdrew from the agreement.  

“The agreement was unfortunately one-sided giving the authority and right to fish only to our partners at the time,” Deputy Agriculture Minister Maksim Uvaidov said, clarifying the details of the treaty. He added that the agreement didn’t provide Soviet fishermen with similar rights.

Taking into account the UK’s decision to strip Russia of ‘most favored nation’ status in 2022, which led to a 35% tariff hike on Russian goods, Moscow says that ending the Soviet-era agreement “will not cause serious foreign policy or economic consequences” for the country.  

Commenting on the legislation, Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin said that by tearing up the agreement Russia was returning to its own possession the fish that the UK had been consuming for decades.  

“He [President Vladimir Putin] returned our fish to us, because the English, shameless, had been eating it for 68 years. They have imposed sanctions on us, while they themselves make up 40% of their diet, their fish menu, from our cod. Let them now lose some weight,” Volodin said.  

A Sky News report from last year claimed that up to 40% of the cod and haddock consumed in the UK comes from Russia.

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