A group of Irish fishermen is hoping to disrupt Russia's planned 'wargames' in waters off the coast of Ireland with a peaceful protest.
Russia has informed Ireland that it plans to carry naval exercises in waters around 240km off the southwest coast in early February.
The area is within Ireland’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), but not within the country's territorial waters.
While the Department of Foreign Affairs has said states are entitled to carry out exercises in other countries' EEZ, Simon Coveney has informed Russian authorities of Ireland's concerns about the planned exercise.
Russia's ambassador, meanwhile, has insisted the "small" exercise is "not in any way a threat to Ireland".
It all comes amid the growing tension within Europe over fears Russia could soon attempt to invade Ukraine.
Patrick Murphy – CEO Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation - told Lunchtime Live Irish fishing crews rely on the waters that Russia now intends to use.
He said: “The story is that we have a foreign power doing wargames inside our EEZ… and we have fishermen who fish there.
“We feel there is an inherent danger to the fishermen that work these waters. We’re highlighting that we are going to continue to fish there as a form of protest - our boats will be out there, trying to make a living out of the area.
“By their presence, they will hopefully protect the other marine life that’s there - like whales and dolphins - from being affected by the SONAR and other activities.”
He said it would be "madness" for small fishing boats to be directly taking on and challenging warships and other military vessels.
However, he said his group is making their plans public to "let people know and hopefully protect our boats".
He noted there are past examples of fishing boats being damaged or sunk by submarines, noting: “Wargames don’t just incorporate ships - you can be assured there’s going to be underwater activity there too.”
Mr Murphy said these naval exercise is yet another obstacle for Irish fishing crews, particularly in the wake of Brexit and its impact on fishing territories.