06 July 2005

The Web

Parliament set to extend fishing zone in reply to Tunisia, Libya

Karl Schembri

Parliament yesterday kicked off the process to extend Malta’s exclusive fishing zone in reaction to Libya’s and Tunisia’s newly claimed zones which ban Maltese fishermen from their historical fishing grounds and which also have repercussions on Malta’s oil exploration efforts.
Foreign Minister Michael Frendo yesterday presented the first reading of the Bill to extend Malta’s 25-mile fishing zone further out, after the Opposition urged the government to devote a sitting in the House on the matter.
The Opposition made it clear on Monday that it will be supporting the government in declaring an extension to Malta’s fishing zone in the wake of Libya’s and Tunisia’s decisions.
Last April, Malta warned the Libyan government to suspend its newly claimed 62-mile fishing zone, of which the coordinates remain undisclosed to this day.
But as Maltese government officials were trying to strike a deal with Libya to allow Maltese fishermen back into their historical fishing grounds, Tunisia followed in Libya’s footsteps and its parliament approved its own zone on 21 June.
MaltaToday revealed Tunisia’s decision last Sunday, prompting a Cabinet decision on Monday to extend Malta’s fishing zone, and a Parliamentary debate in which the Opposition is expressing its backing for the government’s move.

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