The nine Filipino fishermen who had been detained for nine months on grounds of illegally entering into Eritrean waters finally got their freedom and arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport yesterday (19).
The filipinos alleged they were working as fishermen for a Saudi company and said their fishing boat strayed into Eritrean waters and the Eritrean Coast Guard arrested them.
The Philippines is an archipelagic country that is rich in marine resources. However, fishermen are increasingly forced to fish as faraway places that are beyond the reach of their government fearing retribution from the country’s fisheries code of 1998.
At the time of their arrest, the Philippine government appealed to the Eritrean government to release the nine fishermen “without delay”.
The head of the Philippines fishermen association, Pamalakaya, instead sought a humanitarian consideration from the Eritrean government, stressing that the Filipino fishermen were victims of anti-fisherfolk policies in their own country.
Mang Leloy Medalla, one of the nine, said it took them nine months in jail before they were all freed.
Eritrea took illegal fishing on its territorial waters very seriously. Hundreds of Yemeni fishermen have been arrested in the past on grounds of violating Eritrea’s territorial borders and illegally fishing on Eritrean waters.