By Houda Mzioudet.
Tunis, 14 February 2016:
Tunisian officials are trying to secure the release of a number of fishermen from the south-eastern . . .[restrict]Tunisian town of Zarzis currently being held in Libya..
The Tunisian Ministry of Defence confirmed on Friday that six Tunisian fishing boats from the south-eastern Tunisian town of Zarzis were being held Zawia. The boats left Zarzis on Wednesday and were arrested, supposedly in Libyan waters, and taken to Zawia the next day. The number of fishermen held has not been confirmed although it is reported that they have been moved from Zawia and are now in Tripoli.
A Zarzis resident, connected to some of the fishermen, told the Libya Herald that 32 were being held, He denied that they had entered Libyan territorial waters.
Others put the number at 70.
According to the agriculture and fishing union in Zarzis the local authorities there are in contact with Tunisian ministries of agriculture and of foreign affairs as well as the governor of Medenine to try and secure the release of the fishermen and their boats.
The arrest of Tunisian vessels, and those of other nationalities, caught illegally fishing in Libyan waters is a regular occurrence, largely because Libyan waters – rich in fish – are one of the least exploited in the Mediterranean; the Libyan fishing fleet is small.
In such cases, the fishermen are usually freed after a short period of time – though not always their boats. [/restrict]