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Libyan warlord 'demands prisoner exchange' with Italy for captured fishermen by Lorenzo Tondo September 15,2020   |  Source: The Guardian

The Libyan warlord General Khalifa Haftar is reportedly refusing to release 18 Italian fishermen until Italy frees four Libyan footballers convicted of human trafficking.

Since the mid-90s, when Libya began protecting its fishing waters from foreign vessels with the use of force, a little-known conflict has been rumbling in the 180 miles of sea that separates Libya from Italy, which are also the fishing grounds for one of the world’s most prized crustaceans: il Gambero Rosso, or red prawn, which can cost anywhere from €50 to €70 per kilo. The conflict has been called the War of the Gambero Rosso.

Seizures of Italian fishing boats became more frequent in 2005, when Muammar Gaddafi unilaterally decided to extend Libya’s territorial waters from 12 to 74 miles offshore.

According to data from Sicily’s Distretto della Pesca, a cooperative that unites stakeholders in the fishing industry, in the past 25 years more than 50 boats have been seized, two confiscated, about 30 fishermen detained and dozens of people injured.

The latest incident dates back to 1 September, when two Sicilian fishing boats, named Antartide and Medinea, were approached by Libyan patrol boats that accused them of fishing in Libyan territorial waters and from there were transferred to

 

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