• December 13, 2020

The Scottish government will use the force of law and not physical force to police Scottish sea fishery areas says SNP Europe Minister Mike Russell. Mr Russell branded the idea of Royal Navy involvement utterly insane.

The Herald reports Mr Russell:

Urging a “very calm approach”, he said this morning: “Nobody wishes nor will use force.”

The UK Ministry of Defence confirmed this weekend that four Royal Navy patrol boats were on stand-by to protect UK fishing waters, drawing comparisons with the clashes between the UK and Iceland in the 1970s Cod Wars.

Former chief of naval staff Admiral Lord West said on Saturday: “It is absolutely appropriate that the Royal Navy should protect our waters if the position is that we are a sovereign state and our Government has said we don’t want other nations there.”

However Tory MP Tobias Ellwood, the chair of the Commons Defence Committee, said the threat of using Royal Navy gun boats to patrol UK waters in a no-deal was “irresponsible”.

States normally eschew physical force which can escalate tensions during fishery disputes which are increasing globally. However the Argentine Coast Guard has taken a more forceful stance in the South Atlantic and in 2016 sank a Chinese trawler with gunfire after it refused to heave to. More recently in the same area Argentine marines opened fire with small arms – again on a Chinese vessel.



Image: Argentine Coast Guard pushes Chinese trawlers fishing illegally – Inset: Argentine Marine opens fire on trawler refusing to stop.

Bernard Moffatt

Assistant General Secretary Celtic League (13th December 2020)

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