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11 Mar, 2024 14:47

Russia bars UK fleet from vital fishing grounds

A Soviet-era agreement had allowed British vessels to operate in the Barents Sea
Russia bars UK fleet from vital fishing grounds

The UK's fishing fleet has been denied access to Russia's resource rich Arctic fishing grounds, after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law that ends a longstanding agreement allowing British vessels operate in the Barents Sea. The document was published on Russia’s official website for legal information on Monday.

The so-called ‘Fisheries Agreement,’ signed by the USSR, the UK, and Northern Ireland in 1956, which allowed British ships to operate in the rich fishing grounds along the coast of Russia’s Kola Peninsula and east of Cape Kanin Nos, has been terminated. 

The Barents Sea is widely known to be one of the world’s most important fishing grounds for cod and haddock. According to the Daily Mail, citing UK Fisheries data, Britain sourced more than 560,000 tons of fish from the Barents Sea last year alone.

Commenting on the legislation, Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin said that rescinding the agreement would allow Russia to retain vital fish stocks in its waters.

“The shameless English had been eating [our fish] for 68 years. They have imposed sanctions on us, while 40% of their diet, their fish menu, comes from our cod. Let them now lose some weight,” Volodin said.

The deal had been automatically renewed every five years since its inception as neither party had signaled an intention to withdraw. A draft measure to terminate the deal was introduced by Russia’s Foreign Affairs and Agriculture ministries in January this year.

The document noted that the initial agreement was one-sided and gave benefits only to the British side, while Soviet, and later Russian fishermen received no rights.

The draft also indicated that the termination was in response to the UK’s decision in March 2022 to deprive Russia of ‘most favored nation’ trade status, in a move to punish Russia over the Ukraine conflict. Other British sanctions included import tariffs on hundreds of Russian products.

The bill was passed last month by the lower house of Russia’s parliament, the State Duma.

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