Missile tests by the French Navy in Irish waters could put fishermen’s lives in danger, the industry has claimed.
The tests are due to be carried out this week in Ireland’s Exclusive Economic Zone and the Department of Foreign Affairs say they are in constant contact with French authorities.
“This is a serious development, this is putting lives in danger as far as we’re concerned,” Patrick Murphy of the Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation told Newstalk.
“Because nobody knows anything about these [tests] - only that they are missile and rocket firing exercises by the French military in our waters.
“Simple as that. This doesn’t just affect fishermen anymore, it affects any marine user that’s outside there.”
Irish fishermen kicked up a huge fuss earlier this year when the Russian Navy announced it would carry out military drills in Ireland’s EEZ.
The drills were to take place in February - prior to Russia’s surprise invasion of Ukraine - and at the time Taoiseach Micheál Martin warned fishermen that it would not be “the safest thing to be doing - to be fishing close to where military drilling is taking place.”
Moscow eventually decided to relocate the drills as a “gesture of goodwill” and the industry called for a 10 year moratorium on all military drills in Ireland’s EEZ for environmental and fishing reasons.
On January 27 representatives of the @ISWFPO have visited the Embassy of #Russia in Ireland. During the conversation parties discussed in a constructive and positive way the issues pertaining to the upcoming naval drills of the Russian #Navy off the coast of Ireland. pic.twitter.com/z6Qg2rmIWt
— Russia in Ireland (@Rus_Emb_Ireland) January 27, 2022
“There’s too many unanswered questions here,” Mr Murphy continued.
“And we’re asking our own Government - who we complemented that last time for writing to the Russians to help us - to push these exercises back into international waters where they could do less harm and be less dangerous to our fishermen.”
The exercise is due to begin at 2am on Tuesday and will conclude on Monday next week.
The French Embassy have been contacted for comment.
Main image: Fisherman surrounded by seagulls in his small boat taking out his conical fishing baskets. Picture by: Alamy.com