GCC should allow fishermen to have greater access to Gulf waters

June 5, 2010

Gulf Cooperation Council countries should draft a fishing agreement that would allow their nationals to use the Gulf waters with less restrictions, a leading Bahraini MP has said.

“The GCC have agreements on commercial activities that allow businessmen and entrepreneurs to conduct all kinds of activities in any of the six member states as local citizens,” Adel Al Mouawda, the head of the parliamentary committee for foreign affairs, defence and national security, said. “The same principles should apply to fishing which is a commercial activity, within a specific legal frame,” he said.

His call was made three weeks after Qatar shot a Bahraini fisherman who strayed into Qatari waters. Qatar’s coastguards said that they were forced to shoot Adel Al Taweel, 37, after he refused to heed warning shots to make him leave their waters alongside six Bahraini vessels. The injured fisherman was transferred to a hospital in Doha where he was treated. A Bahraini medical team and a delegation of human rights activists dispatched to Doha to repatriate Al Taweel were told that he would be tried for entering the country illegally.

The standoff fuelled a tense situation between the two neighbours who had in the 1990s to resort to the International Court of Justice in The Hague to settle a decades-long border dispute. Although both countries accepted the verdict in March 2001, some of the bitterness remained and when Manama appointed Mohammad Al Mutawa as the next GCC secretary general, Doha rejected the nomination in retaliation for the statements he made as information minister during the standoff.

The GCC top position issue was however resolved after Saudi Arabia urged Bahrain to choose another name and Manama complied by selecting Abdul Lateef Al Zayani, the head of the public security.

The Bahrain-based fishermen will be tried this week in Doha among high expectations that the 92 defendants will be released as the tension between the two neighbours is relaxing.

“We at the parliament are monitoring the developments and we will not weigh in until we see that matters are not moving forward,” Al Mouawda said. “There are good efforts from all parties, and there is no need for us to step in right now,” he said.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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