A Russian news site says Moscow may soon end the sixty-year-old agreement that allows the UK to fish in Russia’s Arctic waters, putting at risk Britain’s favorite dish.
The Izvestiya newspaper said on Thursday that the Russia’sagriculture ministry had submitted draft legislation to revoke the almost 70-year-old fishing agreement that lets UK vessels fish in Russian waters along the coast of the Kola Peninsula and to the east of Cape Kanin in the Barents Sea. This vast area of the Arctic Ocean is traditionally rich in cod and haddock – the staple ingredients of the UK’s traditional fish and chips.
The news site said that the UK-USSR fisheries 1956 agreement had been signed in Moscow. initially allowing access to Soviet waters for five years but, by default, had become almost permanently extended since then.
Data produced by the UK Fisheries department show that almost 600 thousand tons of fish had been collected by British trawlers from the Barents Sea in 2023. According to Izvestiya, if the proposal is implemented, Moscow will deploy warships to enforce the ban on British fishing vessels.
Russia’s actions are undoubtedly in response to the leading role that the UK has played in the imposition of economic sanctions on Russia since the beginning of Putin’s “special military operation.”
This has included denying Russia’s status as a “Most Favored Nation,” restrictions and increased levels of tariff on a string of Russian products including vodka as well as a tariff on Russian-caught whitefish which, prior to the full-scale invasion of Ukraine made up around 50 percent of the whitefish consumed in the UK.
Downing Street said economic sanctions had been targeted to “inflict the maximum damage on the Russian economy while minimizing negative consequences for the UK.”
Needless to say, the UK’s “red-top” newspapers attacked the plan saying this was another attack on the global food supply following on from Russia’s attempts to stop Ukraine’s grain exports.
An unnamed British government spokesperson said the UK had not received any official notification from Moscow on the decision, but went on to say:
“Russia’s continued unilateral withdrawal from a number of international cooperation treaties is symptomatic of its self-inflicted isolation on the world stage as a result of its illegal invasion of Ukraine.”
Andrew Crook, president of the UK’s National Federation of Fish Friers, was quoted by Sky News as saying this latest move might not have a huge impact on UK supplies because,since Russia’s 2022 invasion’ many of Britain’s trawlers have switched their focus to Norwegian waters.
Izvestiya reported that Russia’s cabinet had approved the plan which would soon be submitted to the Russian parliament and President Vladimir Putin before it becomes law.
“The denunciation of the agreement will not cause serious foreign policy and economic consequences for the Russian Federation,” the newspaper quotes a government spokesperson as saying, before adding “Moscow does not intend to put up with oppression from London and its allies.”
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