“The Russians treated us better than our own government”: Fishermen 

Fishermen who met with Russia’s ambassador to Ireland today say that they have been given a “guarantee” that their fishing grounds will not be affected by planned military exercises.

Representatives of the fishing industry met with the Russian ambassador Yury Filatov at the embassy in Dublin today, and said afterwards that the fishermen had been better treated by the Russians than by their own government, according to Sky News.

Earlier this week, Irish fishermen said they would disrupt Russian exercises as they believed they might disrupt Irish fishing grounds, though Russia said its manoeuvres would take place in international waters more than 200 kilometers off the Irish coast next week.

However, today, the fishing representatives hailed a “very, very positive” meeting with the Russian ambassador to Ireland.  It is understood that a buffer zone, subject to agreement, will keep 60 to 80 km between Russian military vessels and Irish boats

Brendan Byrne, chief executive of the Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association, said it was a very beneficial meeting and that he was “very surprised” at the extent of the knowledge the ambassador revealed about Irish fishing issues.

Mr Byrne said that they reached an agreement with the ambassador regarding a “buffer zone” between Russian vessels and fishing trawlers when military exercises are ongoing.

“We have now come to an accommodation where there is a pathway for coexistence for the naval exercises and for our fishing fleet,” he said.

“There was a great understanding of the pressures the Irish fishing industry is under. There is an appreciation of the value of this fishing ground to the overall fishing industry.”

“There was in-depth discussion in relation to the scale of the military exercises, and we have given an undertaking that we wouldn’t discuss those further.”

“It has been a very good day for the Irish fishing industry.

“We explored our options – there was a map at the meeting. The options are clear and they are going back to Moscow.”

“There is an acknowledgement that there is a valuable fishing ground there.”

“I was very impressed by the wealth of knowledge of the ambassador and the complexity of the situation. When you compare that to the lack of engagement of our own Government, a lot of questions need to be asked,” he said.

Patrick Murphy, chief executive of the Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation, said they would carry back the information to fishermen.

“We gave an understanding that the information is sensitive and we are not going to escalate or undermine the good work that was done.”

“We’ll be communicating with our vessels and I’m very happy we had this meeting and grateful the ambassador has given us details that allays our fears.”

He has given us a very guaranteed assurance that he will take this back to Moscow and explain in clear detail the importance of this area to our fishermen.”

“He has given us assurances that common sense will prevail and that some of the rhetoric is not correct.

“We are not here to challenge the Russian nation, all we are here to do is ensure our boats get to fish in their traditional fishing ground and do so in a safe and fair manner.”

“There’s an absolute guarantee that our traditional fishing grounds will not will not be impacted by the Russian naval exercises,” Brendan Byrne said.


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