Russia pulls out of fishing deal and tells Britons to ‘lose weight’ | World News

Russia has pulled out of a long-standing fishing deal with the UK – and said Britons should “lose weight and get smarter”.

A 1956 agreement that allows British boats to fish in the Barents Sea has been ripped up, in the latest sign of growing tensions between Moscow and the West.

The fishing deal was signed by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, but Russian politicians have now claimed it was never in the national interest.

The UK government said the end of the deal would have “no material impact on our fish supplies”.

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Russia’s parliamentary speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said: “The British need to study some proverbs – ‘Russians harness the horse slowly, but ride it fast’.”

He told politicians that “the unscrupulous British” had eaten Russian fish for 68 years – declaring: “Now let them lose weight, get smarter.”

On Wednesday, the UK had imposed sanctions on six people in charge of the Arctic penal colony where Alexei Navalny, Vladimir Putin’s fiercest critic, died last week.

Mr Volodin said withdrawal from the fishing deal was in direct response to these sanctions – as British vessels caught 556,000 tonnes of cod and haddock in Russian waters last year alone.

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Last year, Sky News reported that up to 40% of cod and haddock consumed in the UK comes from Russia and Russian territory – with Moscow accused of “weaponising food”.

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‘No official notification from Russia’

A UK government spokesperson said: “UK vessels do not fish in these Russian waters so this would have no material impact on our fish supplies, including cod or haddock.

“The UK has not received any official notification from the Russian Federation on this matter.

“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.”

Andrew Crook, president of the National Federation of Fish Friers, told Sky News: “British vessels have not fished in Russian waters for decades so it’s a bit of a moot point.

“Cod spawns in Norwegian waters and migrates to the Russian area to grow so that area is avoided to ensure there is the volume of fish needed in the fishing grounds in the future when they migrate back.

“One area of concern is if Russian vessels are catching smaller fish in their waters – but DEFRA assure me they are monitoring this.”

‘This is the most difficult period we have ever faced’

Two Scottish fish and chip shop bosses are relieved UK supplies should not be affected.

However, the industry continues to struggle following the COVID pandemic and amid a cost of living crisis that has seen the prices of oil and fish soar.

The boss of successful chain Blue Lagoon – which has branches across Scotland including in Glasgow, Perth and Stirling – said the firm gets its fish fresh daily from the North Sea.

However, director Alessandro Varese is concerned that the revoke of the treaty could lead to a demand for more local fish, which may lead to a rise in prices.

He told Sky News: “This is the most difficult period we have ever faced in our 49-year history as a family business.”

Mr Varese said the firm is facing rising costs from its suppliers and utility providers, and is calling for the Scottish government to grant a 75% rates relief to the hospitality industry.

He said: “This would be a great help and may be the difference between businesses dying or surviving.”

Tony Jaconelli, owner of award-winning Tony’s of Stonehouse in South Lanarkshire, said it’s been a “tough few years”.

He added: “All the rising costs are crippling a lot of small businesses. It a real shame – some of these chippies have been open for decades.

“The price of oil has come down a bit, but I feel it will never go back to what it was. I suppose life in general won’t.”


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