Britain brushes off Russian plan to ban its fishing fleet

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain brushed off a Russian plan to ban UK ships from fishing in Moscow’s waters on Friday as an example of Russia’s “self-imposed isolation”, while an industry body said it would have no impact because Britain’s fleet doesn’t fish there anyway.

The Russian government said on Thursday it had approved a plan to revoke a fishing agreement dating to 1956 that lets UK vessels fish in Russian’s waters in the Barents Sea, a vast part of the Arctic Ocean rich in cod and haddock.

The announcement prompted headlines in British tabloids that Moscow was threatening Britain’s traditional dish of fish and chips. But Mike Cohen, chief executive officer of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, told Reuters he was not aware of any UK vessels that fish in the sea’s Russian sector.

“I am not clear that it will have any practical impact,” he said.

Russia has sought to disentangle its economy from the West since Western countries imposed sanctions in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022. Russia’s Izvestiya newspaper, which reported the planned fishing move on Thursday, said it was in response to Britain’s attempts to damage the Russian economy.

A British government spokesperson said London had not received any official notification from Moscow on such a decision.

“However, Russia’s continued unilateral withdrawal from a number of international cooperation treaties is symptomatic of its self-inflicted isolation on the world stage as a result of its illegal invasion of Ukraine.”

(Reporting by Andrew Osborn and Elizabeth Piper; Editing by Peter Graff)