British patrol boat boards Irish trawler and stops it from fishing contested Rockall waters in first post-Brexit fisheries clash

  • The Northern Celt was boarded and its skipper told he can no longer fish
  • Skipper said a Scottish patrol vessel told him he couldn’t fish around Rockall
  • Outcrop lies 260 miles west of Scotland’s Western Isles in North Atlantic Ocean 


Fishing rights were a key sticking point in achieving the Christmas Eve deal. The agreement states that EU boats can continue fishing in UK waters but with British trawlers catching a steadily increased share up until 2026. But Dublin has never recognised the UK’s claims of sovereignty over Rockall, leading to clashes over the rich fishing waters which surround it – not to mention the potential for gas and oil reserves. 

Yesterday the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs said it was ‘aware of contact between an Irish fishing vessel and a Marine Scotland patrol vessel’. ‘We are in contact with the Scottish and UK authorities on this,’ it added.

A Scottish fisheries patrol vessel, the Jura, arrived in the area on January 1 – the day after the Brexit transition period ended. And members of its crew boarded the Northern Celt on Monday.

Skipper Adrian McClenaghan told RTE News: ‘They informed us that we could no longer fish inside the 12-mile limit of Rockall.’

But he said he had been issued with a temporary licence to fish in the area with the stipulation that as an ‘EU vessel’ it does not have an automatic entitlement.