While fishing for red prawns, 18 fishers from Sicily were detained by the Libyan Coast Guard on 1 September. The Italian vessels were fishing 40 miles from the Libyan coast and according to the Benghazi authorities had failed to respect the Exclusive Economic Zone unilaterally extended to 74 miles by Libya in 2005.
The captured fishers have been detained ever since, causing great concern to their families, and trade unions organising fishers all around Europe. They’ve now even found themselves in midst of a prisoner swap negotiation, in which Libyan authorities are conditioning their release on a release of Libyans convicted by the Italian courts of human trafficking and murder.
Responding to this terrible situation, the ETF addressed a letter to European Commission Vice-President Josep Borrell and Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries. We are calling on the European Commission to take action and facilitate an immediate and unconditional release of these fishers, as well as put in place measures that will ensure the security of European fishers in the Mediterranean.