2 Italian fishing boats seized off Egypt

A Sicilian commercial fishing cooperative says two of its boats have been seized in international waters, apparently by Egyptian officials for technical checks.

Giovanni Tumbiolo, president of the COSVAP consortium, said Thursday that the boats were boarded Wednesday night at distances of 24 nautical miles and 26 nautical miles north of Alexandria, and taken to shore.

Tumbiolo said the consortium is seeking clarification through the Italian foreign ministry and direct contact with Egyptian fisheries authorities but that so far it appears the reason was for checks, even though the boats were in international waters and should not have been subject to interference.

Italian fishing boats have previously been seized off Libya, with the Italian Navy intervening in one instance in April 2015 to free seven crew members.