Yemeni fishermen reportedly detained last week by the Eritrean authorities for illegally fishing in Eritrean territorial waters have been released, the English-language 'Yemeni Times' newspaper reported on Monday. Nearly 130 fishing boats had been seized since the beginning of July, the paper said. According to the paper, the presidents of the two countries, Ali Abdallah Salih of Yemen and Isayas Afewerki of Eritrea, had agreed to set up a bilateral committee to examine the issue of fishing in their territorial waters.
The two countries fought a brief war in 1996 over the Hanish islands, which were being claimed by both countries. The conflict was resolved after arbitration by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at the Hague in 1999. Eritrean sources told the London-based Arabic-language newspaper, 'Al-Sharq al-Awsat', on 26 July that the differences between the two countries' interpretation of fishing rights had arisen from Eritrea's stance that traditional fishing rights were guaranteed for nationals of both countries in the disputed area, which was later given to Yemen by the ICJ. The court, however, did not give Yemeni fishermen the right to fish in Eritrean territorial waters.
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