Sixty-six Egyptian fishermen arrested in Saudi Arabia for violating its territorial waters returned to Egypt on Monday.
An Egyptian fisherman was killed and at least 65 were arrested in February after a Saudi Arabian border guard fired shots at two Egyptian fishing boats that entered territorial waters without permits. The detained fishermen were released later during the week.
Forty-one more fishermen are expected to be released by Saudi authorities after paying a fine worth up to SAR 10,000, reported state-run news agency MENA.
Last week, Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs admonished fishermen to respect other countries’ territorial waters. Fishermen must possess permits prior to entry or risk losing their boats, paying a fine, or serving up to five years in prison. Because border guards sometimes shoot at boats that trespass on territorial waters, the ministry added, some fishermen have paid with their lives.
Fifteen Egyptian fishermen were released from Libyan custody and deported in January after being held in custody for violating Libya’s territorial waters.
Egyptian fishermen are frequently found fishing illegally in territorial waters. Fishermen brave the trip to countries such as Libya, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Malta, Cyprus, Greece, Turkey, Israel and Italy because Egyptian waters are short on fish and crowded with boats.