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14 June, 2024
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Putin's move puts UK fish and chips at risk

Russia considers banning UK boats in barents sea fishing spat


In a potential crisis for fish and chip enthusiasts, Vladimir Putin's Russian government contemplates scrapping a long-standing agreement with the UK, raising concerns of food weaponization.

As Sky News reports, the proposed termination of the decades-old deal could prohibit British boats from fishing in the Barents Sea, famous for cod and haddock.

Russian newspaper Izvestiya reports that the country's agriculture ministry has submitted draft legislation to ban the UK from these key fishing grounds. This move could bring an end to the 1956 agreement between the then USSR and the UK, allowing UK ships access to the Barents Sea off the north coast of Norway.

Sky News revealed last year that up to 40% of cod and haddock consumed in the UK originates from Russia and Russian territory. Andrew Crook, president of the UK's National Federation of Fish Friers, connects this potential threat to the two-year impact of the war in Ukraine on businesses relying on fish.

Crook explained, "For the last two years, we've experienced really high prices on fish, which we're still paying the price for. Any business that had savings, that's all been eroded because we've been paying a lot for fish - and potatoes."

Despite the UK imposing tariffs on Russian-caught whitefish, constituting around 50% of whitefish consumption, Crook suggests that the impact on UK chippies might not be huge as more fish comes from Norwegian waters nearby.

However, he emphasizes the global concern, stating, "But it's weaponizing food, which is not a good thing for the world."

The draft bill to scrap the agreement reportedly has the support of Russia's government. Izvestiya quotes government documents, stating, "The denunciation of the agreement will not cause serious foreign policy and economic consequences for the Russian Federation."

This move from Russia follows the UK's decision to deny Russia access to Most Favoured Nation status and impose sanctions on various Russian products. German Zverev, president of the All-Russian Association of Fisheries, defends Russia's stance, claiming the 1956 agreement is one-sided and lacks similar benefits for Russia.

This situation unfolds amidst Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine, with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warning of "mounting nuclear risks" at a recent press conference. Lavrov also draws parallels, suggesting Ukraine may face a fate similar to Afghanistan, with the eventual withdrawal of US military support.

[With information sourced from Sky News]

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