A dispute has broken out between Ireland and Scotland about rich fishing grounds off the north-west coast of Donegal.

Scottish authorities have warned that Irish vessels fishing close to the disputed islet of Rockall could be boarded.

But Irish fishermen are defiant and are continuing to fish in the area, as they have for years.

Rockall is a tiny isolated outcrop that has an area of less than two tennis courts.

More people have landed on the Moon than on Rockall.

In the past the Republic of Ireland, the Faroe Islands (Denmark), Iceland and the UK have all had claims over the islet.

Scotland's moves to claim fishing rights come in the light of the UK's decision to leave the EU. It is maintaining that it can claim an exclusive zone around the islet.

But Ireland claims that under EU law its fishermen can still fish around Rockall.

The Killybegs' Fisherman's Organisation has reacted strongly.

"If there is an enforcement by the Scottish authorities we will rigorously defend it [our fishing] and we expect and we believe that the Irish Government will fully support in that action,” Mr O’Donoghue told The Irish Times.

An Irish Naval vessel has been deployed to the area.

It is understood that three Irish fishing vessels are currently fishing near Rockall.

Rockall  lies 430km north-west of Donegal – the closest mainland. However, the nearest permanently inhabited place is North Uist, an island in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, 370km (230 miles) to the east. Britain still claims Rockall as part of Scotland under the Island or Rockall Act, 1972.

The rich fishing grounds and potential oil and gas reserves around the eroded volcano have led to Ireland, Britain, Iceland and Denmark all staking territorial claims in the past.

Other links

Is there oil off Rockall? - SEE THIS LINK

Record broken in boat's trip around Rockall - CLICK HERE

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