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Putin terminates Soviet-era fishing deal with UK

The agreement had allowed British vessels to operate in the Barents Sea

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law that ends a longstanding agreement with the UK allowing British vessels to fish in the Barents Sea. The document was published on Russia’s official website for legal information on Monday.

The legislation withdraws from a deal signed by the governments of the USSR, the UK, and Northern Ireland in 1956. The so-called ‘Fisheries Agreement’ had allowed British ships to fish along the coast of Russia’s Kola Peninsula, east of Cape Kanin Nos, off Kolguev Island and the small islands in the Barents Sea. The deal had been automatically renewed every five years since its inception as neither party had signaled its intention to withdraw. Since Russia became the legal successor of the USSR after its collapse, the agreement continued to be valid up until recently.

A draft measure to terminate the deal was introduced by Russia’s Foreign Affairs and Agriculture ministries in January this year. The document noted that the initial agreement was one-sided and gave benefits only to the British side, while Soviet, and later Russian fishermen received no rights. The draft also indicated that the termination was in response to the UK’s decision to deprive Russia of ‘most favored nation’ trade status, which it made in March 2022 in a move to punish Russia over the Ukraine conflict. Other British sanctions included import tariffs on hundreds of Russian products.

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The bill was passed last month by the lower house of Russia’s parliament, the State Duma. Commenting on the legislation, Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin said that rescinding the agreement would allow Russia to retain vital fish stocks in its waters.

The shameless English had been eating [our fish] for 68 years. They have imposed sanctions on us, while 40% of their diet, their fish menu, comes from our cod. Let them now lose some weight,” Volodin said.

The Barents Sea is widely known to be one of the world’s most important fishing grounds for cod and haddock. According to the Daily Mail, citing UK Fisheries data, the country sourced more than 560,000 tons of fish from the Barents Sea last year alone.

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