(21)  Rockall

On 21 July 1997 the Government announced its intention to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The Convention prevents the use of uninhabited rocks without an economy as a basis for national territorial claims to the seabed. As a result the isle of , a rock some 70 feet high and 83 feet long at its widest point and located in the Atlantic Ocean at 52 20N 14 0W, 187 miles west of Ardnamurchan, has ceased to be the basis for a British claim to fishing, mining and oil rights within a 200-mile radius. Instead, British territorial rights will henceforth be derived from the St Kilda archipelago at 57 50N 8 40W, although the 200-mile radius from there does include itself, and as a result Scots law continues to apply in this, its most westerly outpost (see Isle of Act 1972). The Government’s decision was hailed as a triumph for the environmental pressure group, Greenpeace, members of which had occupied from early in June to press for ratification of the Convention. But the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation stated that “the whole principle of giving up an area of that size is something we cannot support. … now .. our boats will face international competition if they want to develop a fishery for unexploited deep water species out there.” The National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations declared that its members were “totally sick of the way this whole thing has been handled. … Essentially the Government has surrendered on British fishing jurisdiction”. (Source The Scotsman, 28 and 29 July 1997). It may be noted that one possible derivation of the mysterious name of is the Gaelic sgeir rocail, “sea rock of roaring”.

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