“The exact location of the international boundary between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland through Loughs Carlingford and Foyle remains an issue for determination…”

In January 2012 I suggested there might be some cause for optimism that the unresolved issue of the delimitation of the territorial water boundary between the UK and the Republic of Ireland could be, erm, resolved.  As the then Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore, TD, said at the time.

Recently the two Governments agreed to address issues relating to both Lough Foyle and Carlingford Lough in the round. A first meeting of officials took place last week in London. While the issues involved – including the roles of the Crown Estate and all other relevant actors – are complex I am satisfied that both sides are committed to resolving them as soon as possible.

But, apparently not.  According to this 26 June 2015 Derry Journal report

Barry Fox, Loughs Agency Director of Aquaculture and Shellfisheries, said the lack of progress on sorting out the border issue was “massively” impacting on the development of businesses such as shellfish farming, with the potential for millions of pounds more to be generated than is the case from the current operations on the lough.

The Loughs Agency was given powers back in 2007 to issue aquaculture licenses, but hasn’t been able to issue a single one because of the territorial dispute.

If this was resolved, the Lough Agency’s licensing powers would allow for rigorous assessment of business proposals for water-based farming operations along the Foyle.

Successful applicants who become properly licensed would then be able to use this to apply to banks for start-up or expansion funds- something none of the businesses operating in the Foyle can do at present.

“With the territory issue between the Crown Estate Commission and the Irish State, until that’s resolved between them there can be no progress on aquaculture licensing on Lough Foyle,” Mr Fox said.

He added that the lack of resolution “is not helping anybody”.

“There is an economic impact, there’s no question of that. There is still money being generated but if it was regulated then people could go on and do a start-up business and there would be a lot more opportunities for people.

“We don’t know when there will be a resolution. There have been small bits and pieces of movement but it could be 12 months or 12 years. We have been given no date for when it will happen, but we are hopeful it will

“It is doable and it will happen, I believe, but it is just a matter of when.”

It was just a matter of “when” back in 2012…

And, apparently, there is a particular problem in Derry/Londonderry  [Who knew!? – Ed]  From the same report

It is understood that the matter will have to be involve several departments within the Irish government and arms of the British government alongside the Crown Estate.

While it is understood that there is an unofficial ‘gentleman’s agreement’ in operation between the two fisheries departments at Ireland’s other border lough, Carlingford, no such agreement exists over the Foyle. [added emphasis]

The Journal asked the Crown Estate where they believed the international boundary lay

A spokesperson responded: “The exact location of the international boundary between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland through Loughs Carlingford and Foyle remains an issue for determination between the UK and Republic of Ireland
governments. [added emphasis]

“In this context, The Crown Estate continues to work with the Northern Ireland Executive, The Loughs Agency and local stakeholders for the benefit of all users of the two border Loughs and the protection of their respective environments.”


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  • hugh mccloy

    If lough melvin can be in a way sorted boundary wise I am shocked this cant be. One rising issue here is we have lough agency and DCAL controlled waters in N Ireland instead of one body. In Loughs agency you can kill salmon but a few miles up the road or over a mountain you cannot.

    the only exception to the salmon rule in DCAL water is Lough melvin, as its hard to prove a salmon was caught in a boundary line and so this is legislated for. Why can something similar not be sorted out with lough agency ?

  • Sergiogiorgio

    South China Sea it ain’t. Gun boats to the Foyle. Come in number 43, your time is up.

  • Robin Keogh

    It might be better to set up a seperate agency to deal with the issue, an agency that will be able to oversee the transfer of responsibilities when the border is removed.

  • Peter L

    When the snow falls on Ireland it falls on it all.

  • aquifer

    And whichever gets to develop whatever, it will doubtless be sold into the same single market. If they are arguing about wind farm sites, let the South Sea islanders decide. They are the ones threated by rising sea levels. Time is now more than money, get on with it.

  • hugh mccloy

    Rob who controls and regulates already ? Lough agency and dcal in n Ireland and fisheries board rep ire. Along with several quangos at different levels. A United ireland will mean bodies joining up, duplicity removed, why on earth would you set up another body when loughs agency woks cross boarder. Anglers in rep have already shown the gov the door in brining in more admin as that came along with a new state licence that included trout and salmon fishing to cover admin charge. Do you have half a clue about anything or do they not teach you facts in shinnerbot school.

  • Mister_Joe

    Internationally, it has been a no brainer when only 2 countries are involved. You draw a line down the middle of the body of water separating the two countries. It’s simple and easy to understand.

  • the rich get richer

    I see no border, I feel no border.

    Is it make believe ?….Who dreamed it up ? ? ?

  • james

    Ah yes, the removal of the border. That will be in 2016 I think the dear leader said, isn’t it? I hope everything is ready.

  • james

    I think that happens to Germany/France as well. USA/Canada, there’s another.

  • Trevorabh

    Are you a mime artist, desperately trying to get out of the box?

    “Is there a border or isn’t there? I can’t see it but I feel it.”

  • Nordie Northsider

    This is a discussion of the ‘international’ frontier between Derry and Donegal. The ‘real world’ has little to do with it.

  • Niall Chapman

    No, you’re both wrong. Depends how big the snow clouds are

  • james

    Thank you, Michael Fish

  • james

    Yes, and we could name it the Concerned Residents Associaton for the Purpose of Shovelling Water in Ireland and Making Money. Or CRAPSWIMM. Administered under the auspices of Sinn Fein, natch.

  • Niall Chapman

    Happy to be of Service

  • Roger

    Last thing we need is another quango, unless the UK is happy to pay for it.

  • Roger

    Quote the Crown Estate spokesperson…”the exact location of the international boundary between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland”. There is no such international border. There is a border between Ireland and the UK.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Actually there are two main rules in international law for drawing sea borders and they can clash. (However, my Law of the Sea may be out of date, I studied this 25 years ago!). You either:
    1) draw a line that is an average direction of the coastline, go to the point on land where the land border meets the sea and go out perpendicular to that
    2) taken the average direction of the land border, draw this line, then simply continue it out to sea.
    An example might illuminate. Take Scotland / England, if Scotland were to go independent. The land border is actually quite tilted, so if you follow No2, you get Scotland owning not so much of the North Sea (I say owning, I mean its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), that is, the bit of the sea going out 200 miles that it has the right to economic use of). If you do No1 and go out at right angles from the coast, Scotland gets a much bigger area.

    I have no idea how the local geography in our case plays out. Helpfully.