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Sicily's fishermen brave weather, seas and threat of Libyan jail November 12,2020   |  Source: France24

Domenico Asaro recalls the day in 1996 when Libyan forces began firing on his Italian fishing boat "Osiride" (Osiris), triggering a four-hour chase during which a bullet grazed his skull.

The deep-sea trawler, which had been fishing for prized giant red shrimp in international waters 50 nautical miles (93 kilometres) off Misrata, was seized and Asaro and his eight-man crew spent the next six months in a Libyan jail.

Now aged 64, "Mimmo," as he is known, sees his experience replayed as 18 fishermen from his southern Sicilian city enter their third month of captivity in Libya for allegedly fishing in its territorial waters.

It's a dangerous, yet familiar, episode for the fishermen of Mazara del Vallo, who for generations have relied on these Mediterranean waters for their livelihoods but see their futures increasingly threatened.

As fish stocks have dwindled and trawler capabilities improved, their boats have sailed further from port in recent decades in search of the elusive, lucrative catch -- but into waters over which Libya has claimed sovereignty.

The tensions over fishing rights between Sicily and its North African neighbours, especially Libya and Tunisia, have escalated into what has been dubbed the "fishing wars".

"The worst thing is that fishermen know

 

© © 2020 AFP

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