By George Grant.
Tripoli, 8 October:
Fourteen Italian fishermen have been arrested off the Libyan coast and taken to the military court in . . .[restrict]Benghazi. The men were picked up last night in two boats some 40 nautical miles from the coast.
“They were in Libya’s protected fishing zone at the time of their arrest”, said an Italian diplomat, who requested not to be named.
“They have been placed inside the military court, but I cannot really say more than that”.
The Italian Embassy in Tripoli has refused to comment on the case, and it is not known what measures are being taken to secure the men’s release.
In June, 19 Italian fishermen in three vessels were arrested in the Fisheries Protection Zone and held for more than a month. The FPZ, which was imposed by the Qaddafi regime in 2005, extends 62 nautical miles from the coast and is not recognised by either Italy or the wider European Union.
Under the United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea, each country has exclusive rights over territorial waters extending 12 nautical miles from the coast. Countries may also claim rights over an Exclusive Economic Zone, extending to a distance of 200 nautical miles.
In the Mediterranean, however, states have generally desisted from proclaiming an EEZ owing to inevitable conflicts that would arise from competing claims over such a large space from the 21 nations bordering the sea. [/restrict]