Thursday,19 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1281, (4 - 10 February 2016)
Thursday,19 October, 2017
Issue 1281, (4 - 10 February 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Still lost at sea

Hopes are fading that missing crew members of the Egyptian fishing boat Ain Al-Bahrain, which capsized in Sudanese waters on Saturday, will be found alive, writes Doaa El-Bey

Al-Ahram Weekly

President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi, who is in Addis Ababa for the African Union Summit, ordered a rescue boat from the Egyptian Navy to move to Port Sudan to assist in the search for 12 fishermen still missing after their boat capsized last week in Sudanese waters. The rescue boat, with a helicopter aboard, will help search 900 square miles of ocean around the island near which the fishing boat is believed to have sunk.

Two members of the boat’s 14 man crew were rescued by Sudanese coastguards and media reports say that a third called his wife from Sudan and told her that he had swum to the Sudanese shore, where he is now receiving hospital treatment.

Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri has instructed Hesham Al-Nakeeb, assistant for consulate affairs, to coordinate with the Egyptian consulate in Port Sudan and provide updates on the progress of the rescue mission.

“The consulate has not ruled out the possibility that some of the lost fishermen could have drifted to the Eritrean shore. The Egyptian Embassy in Eritrea is checking with the Eritrean authorities whether any of the fishermen have been found,” said Al-Nakeeb.

Egyptian fishermen crossing into the territorial waters of neighbouring states in search of richer fishing grounds is a growing problem. Fishing boats have recently been detained in Tunisia, Libya, Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Their crews have been released only after Foreign Ministry intervention, and often after paying a hefty fine.

Sixteen Egyptian fishermen detained in Tunisia in December for entering Tunisian territorial waters were held for almost a month; in November, 15 Egyptian fishermen were released by Libyan authorities after being held for more than four months in Benghazi; and 13 Egyptian fishermen, arrested in Sudanese territorial waters in October, were only freed after weeks of intensive negotiations.

In August 2015, Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir ordered the release of 101 Egyptian fishermen detained since April. The move came within the framework of a prisoner-exchange deal negotiated between Cairo and Khartoum.

In August, Tunisia released 15 Egyptian fishermen arrested the previous month near the Tunisian port of Safax.

Despite repeated warnings from the Foreign Ministry not to enter the territorial waters of neighbouring states, Egyptian fisherman continue to risk detention and high fines in search of better-stocked fisheries.

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