The Ministry of Foreign Affairs published a statement on Thursday warning Egyptian fishing boats not to violate Saudi Arabian territory when fishing. The ministry also pointed out that Saudi Arabia would dole out harsher penalties if the practice continues.
According to the ministry over 200 Egyptian fishing boats have drifted into Saudi territorial waters in the last two years.
Spokesman for the ministry Amr Roshdy expressed “regret for the continuation of this phenomenon”. He also pointed out that the ministry works hard to “secure the release of these boats and their crews of fishermen”.
Roshdy reported the latest Egyptian boat to be found by Saudi Arabia for violating its territory is the Mohamed Jamil. The crew of the boat have been sentenced to five months in jail and have been fined 80 thousand Saudi Riyals (approximately EGP 147 thousand). The crew were detained after “the captain refused to respond to warning shots fired by the Saudi coast guard”. Roshdy added that Egypt’s ambassador in Jeddah managed to reduce the crew’s sentence to two months.
Roshdy said that Saudi have reported “205 cases of repeated violations of its territorial waters by Egyptian boats in the last two years”. He added that many of these boats ignore the Suadi coast guard’s warning shots.
Egyptian fishing boats have caused trouble by operating in other states’ territorial waters around the region. 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 Fishing Workers’ Union in Kafr Al-Sheikh blamed the authorities for the problem, claiming they were ignoring the plight of Egypt’s fishermen. He reported that the numbers of boats were increasing but there was a shortage of fish and this is why Egyptian fisherman stray into foreign waters.