Egypt is working to return home 14 fishermen stopped in Tunisia last week near Sfax Port for illegally fishing in the country’s territorial waters, the Egyptian ambassador in Tunisia said on Tuesday.
Ambassador Nabil Habashy said that two other crewmen, however, will remain in Tunisia until “investigations are completed and the problem is solved.”
The fishermen were not interrogated by prosecutors as they are awaiting “reconciliation attempts with Tunisian authorities,” the fishermen’s lawyer Adel bin Mahmoud told Ahram Online.
Tunisian agriculture ministry official Abdulla Al-Rabehy said the fishermen are not being held in detention and are moving freely at Sfax Port, adding that a committee tasked with reviewing reconciliation requests will soon convene do address the matter.
Al-Rabehy expressed concerns over what he described as the growing number of Egyptian boats that fish in Tunisian territorial waters without a license.
Fishermen face fines between 30,000 and 300,000 Tunisian Dinars for fishing without a permit, Al-Rabehy said, adding that in this case only the minimum fine is likely to be imposed given that no other serious violations were committed.
In October, 16 fishermen were held by Tunisian authorities for illegal fishing, 13 of whom were later released. Three other crew members remain in detention and are being prosecuted before a Tunisian tribunal.