Army had to call reinforcements during Tunisian vessels interception

Captains of Tunisian vessels intercepted by the AFM handed €10,000 fine for fishing in Maltese territorial waters

The captains of the Tunisian vessels intercepted by the AFM on Sunday were handed a €10,000 fine on Tuesday.

Before magistrate Ian Farrugia this morning, Inspectors Eliott Magro and Daryl Borg charged the captain of the Tunisian-flagged Mohammed Yahia, Khnissi Khemais, 41, from Tunisia with fishing in Maltese waters without the necessary licence. Khemais was also accused of failing to inform Maltese officials of the amounts and descriptions of the fish aboard the vessel before entering Maltese fishing waters and failing to give 3 days prior notice of its plans to enter Malta.

The captain of the second fishing vessel Ayatou Allah, Belwaer Mohamed Ali, 39, also from Tunisia faced identical charges in separate proceedings.

The captains pleaded guilty to the charges, and have been ordered not to leave the boats until the fine is paid. 

The court heard how the captains refused to obey the army’s orders, with reinforcements being called in during the operation.

The vessels were intercepted by the Armed Forces within Maltese territorial waters west of Gozo on Sunday.

The vessels were boarded by AFM personnel and escorted to Valletta Grand Harbour during the night for further investigation by Malta's Fisheries Department and the Malta Police Force.

Sources who spoke to MaltaToday said around 260 kg of Lampuki were found onboard the Tunisian vessels.

The vessels were boarded by AFM personnel and escorted to Valletta Grand Harbour during the night for further investigation by Malta's Fisheries Department and the Malta Police Force.

Photos of the intercepted vessels fit this description, showing a large green boat with the Tunisian flag printed on the side.

No weapons were found on board.

Replying to questions sent on Monday, the police said investigations are ongoing.

Questions to the AFM and the Fisheries Department within the ministry have so far remained unanswered.