Peter Agius urges authorities to raise Tunisian lampuki theft with European Commission

The former MEP candidate said he was disappointed at Fisheries parliamentary secretary Clint Camilleri’s defeatist tone

Former MEP candidate Peter Agius has urged authorities to take the issue up with the European Commission
Former MEP candidate Peter Agius has urged authorities to take the issue up with the European Commission

Former MEP candidate Peter Agius has urged the local authorities to raise the issue of Tunisian fishermen stealing Gozitan Lampuki catches with the European Commission.

“Imagine this: you go to work but then someone else takes home your salary,” Agisu said in a Facebook post on Monday.

“I am disappointed by the defeatist attitude taken by Parliamentary Secretary Clint Camilleri. There is a lot you can do to help fishermen. In November there is the plenary session of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean – Malta can ask the European Commission to implement rules for Tunisians to respect Gozitans’ property. We can only blame ourselves if we do not use European tools.”

Yesterday, MaltaToday reported that Tunisian fishermen have been plundering Gozitan fishing grounds. The fishermen have been threatened by machete and Molotov cocktail-wielding Tunisians, as well as by a large, green Tunisian vessel which threatens to ram Maltese boats.

While fishing off lampuki floats is not strictly illegal, fishermen who spoke to MaltaToday said that the Tunisians were going as far as to destroy the floats and lines in the process of hauling in their catch, using strong-arm tactics to stop the Maltese from accessing their equipment.   

Fisherman Anthony Zammit said that the Tunisians departed from the port city of Sfax in what was by now a 10-year-feud.

In his comments to MaltaToday, Camilleri said that the situation had been going on for years.

“This is a problem that we know about, and a couple of days ago, we discussed the matter with the AFM, to determine different possibilities on how we can protect the fishers,” Camilleri said.

“The reality is that up to 25 miles out, within the Maltese fishing zone, the AFM can intervene, and we have a memorandum of understanding as a secretariat with the army on the protection of Maltese fishers, but there’s only so much we can do in international waters,” he added.

Camilleri said the government has considered taking the issue to the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM), the body in charge of fishing in the Mediterranean Sea.

“This is something that has to be dealt with in that forum, as the AFM cannot intervene in international waters in the name of Maltese fishers, and only there can the issue be resolved with the Tunisian authorities,” he said.

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