The Irish Government has announced that future roundings of the Fastnet Rock lighthouse will now be subject to a toll. Yachts rounding the iconic islet in the Atlantic Ocean will be charged €10 per meter of waterline length, applied to “reciprocal” roundings (i.e. those where you enter and leave the area around the rock on reciprocal courses).
This new toll is seen as a political move, aimed at the Fastnet Race itself, while allowing local users the same unrestricted passage that they currently enjoy.
Eddie Warden-Owen, Chief Executive of the RORC, the organising authority for the biennial Fastnet Race, attacked the move as contrary to the International Law of the Sea which guarantees the right of ‘innocent passage’ through coastal waters of other states. “This is an act of diplomatic idiocy,” said Warden-Owen, who added that the RORC may have to look at other options for the rounding mark in the Fastnet. RORC Commodore, Irishman Michael Boyd, was unavailable for comment.
Simon Coveney, Irish Minister for the Marine, no mean yachtsman himself, explained the move as one of exercising Irish sovereignty, in an important year historically. “This is the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising, Ireland’s equivalent of Independence Day. It is incumbent on us to remove any ambiguity about the ownership of this valuable piece of nautical territory.”
Minister Coveney refused to deny rumours that the rock might be renamed to honour one of the executed heroes of the 1916 Rising.