Egypt coordinates with Tunisia over 16 arrested fishermen
Egyptian fishing boat - YOUM7 (Archive)

CAIRO: Coordination between Egypt-Tunisia authorities is ongoing to solve the problem of 16 Egyptian fishermen detained Monday over breaching Tunisian regional waters, announced a Wednesday statement by Foreign Ministry on its Facebook page.

A fishing boat, called “Abu Ashraf 148 Port Said,” was seized off the coast of the Tunisian town of Zarzis.

A statement by the Tunisian Ministry of Defense said borders patrols arrested 16 Egyptian fishermen who were aboard the boat over “illegal fishing,” and then referred them to investigations.

Ahmed Nassar, the head of Fishermen Syndicate, told Youm7 Thursday that the fishermen who were  heading to Malta Island “were forced to lean towards the Tunisian territorial waters due to bad weather.”

Dozens of fishermen have been previously detained off foreign shores several times, and subsequently faced similar charges of trespassing regional waters. Many have been released, while others were sentenced to prison terms over illegal fishing.

A most recent case was reported early December about 17 Egyptian fishermen who were sentenced to eight months in Libyan prisons after they illegally entered into Libyan waters without permits.

In November, some other 15 Egyptian fishermen were released on 75,000 EGP ($9,000) bail after being detained in a Benghazi prison for four months.

Some 101 Egyptian fishermen were pardoned by the Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir in August, and in exchange, some 44 Sudanese arrested in Egypt over illegal entry were also released.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry has repeatedly warned fishermen against violating territorial waters.

In some cases, Nassar, the head of fishermen Syndicate, blamed the violations on “navigation devices’ malfunction,” in previous statements to The Cairo Post.

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