Tripoli, 29 March 2013:
Eight Egyptian fishermen have been rescued from their sinking boat off the coast of Libya, before being arrested . . .[restrict]for illegally entering Libyan waters.
The head of the Fishermen’s Union of the Kafr al-Sheikh area in Egypt, Ahmed Abdo Nasser, said that the eight had been rescued by the Libyan Coastguard. He added that they were all in good health after their rescue, according to the Egypt Independent newspaper.
The men were apparently on a five-day fishing trip which started in Malta when their boat ran into difficulties off the Libyan coast near Tobruk.
Nasser also said that, in a separate case, 18 Egyptian fishermen had also been arrested yesterday, Thursday, for illegally fishing in Libyan waters. Yet another group of 15 are being held for fishing off the coast near Misrata.
Libyan waters are rich in fish, including the endangered Bluefin Tuna and red prawns, a popular European seafood. In 2005 Libya declared a Fisheries Protection Zone (FPZ) which stretches 62 nautical miles from the coast. Foreign fleets are only allowed to fish in Libyan waters with permission from the government, and are charged for so doing.
The FPZ is not recognised internationally.
Egypt’s waters have been overfished, forcing the country’s fishermen to travel further afield to secure a lucrative catch. Vessels heading to Maltese waters, where they are allowed to fish, often pass through Libyan territorial waters.
Nasser has asked the Egyptian Foreign Minister to get involved and secure the release of fishermen currently detained in Libya. Earlier in the month, he called on President Mohamed Morsi to use Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan’s visit to Egypt to request the release of five fishing boats which, after the release of their crew, have been held by the Libyan authorities since 2012. [/restrict]