An Egyptian fishing boat which violated the territorial waters of Tunisia is currently being held, pending diplomatic efforts to return the boat and crew to Egypt.
The Egyptian Embassy in Tunisia said it is going to facilitate returning the boat, called El-Hag Saleh El-Gedid, to Egypt, before the end of the week.
Tunisian authorities set a fine of 100,000 Tunisian dinars, which is approximately EGP 400,000, a statement released by the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated.
The statement cited Tunisian Minister of Agriculture Mohamed Bin Salem as saying that he appreciates Egyptian-Tunisian relations which is why he intervened to reduce the fine from 200,000 Tunisian dinars to 100,000. He added that if a Tunisian boat violates the resting period in the Gulf of Gabes, authorities usually set the maximum fine of 300,000 Tunisian dinars.
Egyptian fishermen are frequently found fishing illegally in territorial waters. Fishermen brave the trip to countries such as Libya, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Malta, Cyprus, Greece, Turkey, Israel and Italy because of the excessive number of boats and the insufficient amount of fish in Egyptian waters.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had said in April that 200 boats have drifted into Saudi Arabian waters alone, in the past two years. The ministry warned Egyptian fishing boats not to violate Saudi Arabian territory when fishing.
In September 2012 the ministry issued a warning to Egyptian fishermen not to stray outside of Egyptian territory after two fishermen died after having been shot by the Tunisian coast guard. At the time fisherman and head of the Independent Fishermen’s Union in Kafr Al-Sheikh blamed the authorities for the problem, claiming they were ignoring the plight of Egypt’s fishermen.