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Rock on Rockall, you'll never fall ........

Posted: Sun Jun 09, 2019 6:38 pm
by DaveWalsh
Rockall is in the news again, and because I do remember researching the thorny legal issues some years ago for Oileáin 2014, I dutifully resorted to reading it (!) to see what it had to say on the subject.

I was immediately reminded that Kevin O’Callaghan (a.k.a. GEO), first President of the Irish Sea Kayaking Association, summitted in 2007, so ISKA has skin in the game.

The final paragraph under the “legal issues explained” is poignant. Oileáin noted that Rockall “isn’t urgent”. The main then and now current national economic benefit of the Rockall area is in its fishery, and the management of EU fisheries had been ceded to the EU many years previous. It was Oileáin then felt, overstating it that sovereignty has also thus been ceded, but that “realistically, if Iceland were to join the EU, the whole position would be irrelevant” for practical purposes.

BUT ……

That was premised on the four disputers of Rockall being Iceland, UK, Ireland and Denmark, three / four of whom were EU and Iceland were making noises. Now with Brextit its gone the other way completely.

The relevant law is the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982. Everyone except USA and Uzbekhistan has signed up. This agreement provides for “extended continental shelf” claims in certain circumstances beyond the “normal” limit of the “exclusive economic zones” projecting seaward from sovereign states for 200nm from their coastline, the usual limit that everyone agrees in principle that everyone else may enjoy. Uninhabitable rocks visible above the surfaces don’t count. When the UK ratified the Convention, it gave up its (previously claimed) right to a 200nm zone around Rockall.


Re: Rock on Rockall, you'll never fall ........

Posted: Fri Aug 02, 2019 11:11 am
by fionatrahe
Seems like another revision of Oileáin is necessary :?
I'll be interested to read your take on Brexit :)

Re: Rock on Rockall, you'll never fall ........

Posted: Sun Aug 04, 2019 6:20 pm
by DaveWalsh

Brexit is of course a fascinating topic that would be both interesting and amusing in equal parts if it wasn’t so ominous for us here in Ireland, and we didn’t even get to vote for or against it.

In the Rockall context, the UK argument is that the 12nm exclusive zone does apply around even lifeless rocks (they gave in long ago on the 200nm claim) and though that is not universally accepted, they may well be right. That has to be taken into account as regards the recent Scottish spat with Ireland. EU common fishing rules make it all irrelevant for the moment, unless of course some Icelanders came around the place, as they aren’t club members. Rockall is nearest to Scotland and in waving its flag or rattling its sabre at Ireland recently, it is thought Edinburgh was really in the business of talking at London and not at Dublin. In a ruinous Brexit of the ultra-hard variety Scotland says it intends pushing for another border poll which if successful would see most of the offshore (oil and fishery) assets around the UK coast disappearing from the UK again. Immediately post Brexit, hard or soft, the thinking is that one of the greatest single immediate gains to the UK is the North Sea and Atlantic fishery, which they would parley with the EU in the greater context of other concessions they need for other industries. If the UK doesn’t break up that is. If Scotland Scexits, London loses a major bargaining chip and Scotland rather likes to remind London of all that from time to time.

There are legal fudges and inconsistencies and uncertainties surrounding other Ireland / UK issues such as Carlingford and Lough Swilly as well and generally as regards fishing arrangements on our east and northeast flanks.

Don’t forget either that back in 2016 when Brexit was voted on, Ireland was in no place to be jeering at the UK for how it went about its plebiscite, the ill-considered vagueness of what they were voting for and all that. At that point we were guilty of having conducted two EU referendums where we’d voted a second time, to “get the right result”, so to speak as it were. It was only in 2018 that we learned how to and did conduct a referendum on a seriously complex and divisive issue, the Repeal of the 8th. Put aside partisan views, the mechanics of what was done were awesomely clever. The national conversation was conducted over a period in a way that had everyone happy with the quality of the debate, which was comprehensive and to the point. The UK only really had its national conversation after the headcount, which is at the root of their current problems. Unlike with Brexit in 2016, every Irish citizen who went into a polling station in 2018 knew exactly what would happen if they pressed the green button and exactly what would happen if they pressed the red button. It was real democracy in action.

Sorry, but you did ask ……….. (and its raining cats and doge here, and I finished my book, and …..).