Two Sicilian fishing boats have been shot at and seized by Libyan authorities, according to local reports. The vessels, from Mazara del Vallo, were picked up yesterday in Sicilian waters and taken to Libya's Benghazi Port.
"The boats were stopped after 13.00 around 40 miles off the Libyan coast", said Giovanni Tumbliolo, president of District fishing body, COSVAP. The Mayor of Mazara Nicola Cristaldi has described the use of force as "grave." "Nothing can justify the use of force", he said. "Gunshot marks are clearly visible on the side of the boats. The vessels were in international waters, which Libya thinks belong to them".
Italian Ambassador to Tripoli, Joseph Grimaldi, and the general consul in Benghazi, Guido De Santis, are 'following the story closely,' on the orders of Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi. One of the fishing boats, 'Daniela L', has been seized by Libyan authorities before. Held for a week in the port of Benghazi in December 2010 it was released after payment of a 5,000 euro fine. The owner of 'Giulia PG', Domenico Asaro is no stranger to trouble either. He spent 6 months in a Libyan jail 16 years ago after his boat at the time was seized.
Meanwhile two other fishing boats from Mazara have been seized in Tunisia and Egypt. "The fishing industry can't go on like this", said Tumbiolo.
"We are facing a war. A development plan for coastal countries and the Mediterranean aimed at overcoming disputes involving fishing zones should be established as well as increased supervision in the Straits of Sicily by the Italian authorities"