Falkland Islands: "Almirante Irizar"

House of Lords written statement – made on 29th March 2004.

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Photo of Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean Minister of State (Middle East), Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Minister of State (Middle East)

On 15 and 16 March 2004 the Argentine naval Icebreaker, "Almirante Irizar" sailed through the Falklands Outer Conservation Zone and the Falklands Interim Conservation Zone. These are areas for which the Falkland Islands Government issue fishing licences. During the time that it was inside these zones, the Argentine vessel was challenging other vessels to identify themselves. While transit of the conservation zones is permissible, the policing of the zones by a foreign vessel contravenes the Falkland Islands exclusive jurisdiction.

We asked the Argentine Government for an explanation of the vessel's actions. Their response was not satisfactory. We have therefore made a formal protest to the Argentine Government concerning the actions of the "Almirante Irizar", underlining the need to ensure that this type of incident does not happen again. This note also reiterated that Her Majesty's Government have no doubts about UK sovereignty over the Falkland Islands.

My right honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr Bill Rammell) has spoken to Falkland Island councillors about this incident. He shares their concerns and has briefed them on our response. He assured them of our continued firm support.