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Volume 299: debated on Thursday 31 July 1997

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs for what reason he proposes to give up British claims to the area of the Atlantic around Rockall. [11779]

British fishery limits to the west of Rockall will be redrawn upon the UK's accession to the United Nations convention on the law of the sea. The conversion will bring many advantages to the UK, including the right to impose strong anti-pollution measures around our shores and important freedom of navigation. The convention provides that rocks which cannot sustain human habitation or economic life of their own shall have no exclusive economic zone or continental shelf.Even before accession, the UK's claim to 200-mile fishery limits based on Rockall was highly questionable. Rockall itself will remain part of Scotland with a 12-mile territorial sea, and will remain within British fishery limits, as will the Rockall Bank and the new deep water fisheries to the east of Rockall. Redrawing our fishery limits has no effect on our continental shelf to the west of Rockall.