Italy’s navy has rescued an Italian fisher who was wounded after the Libyan coastguard reportedly fired on his boat.
Salvatore Quinci, mayor of the fishing port of Mazaro del Vallo in south-western Sicily, said members of the coastguard shot at the fisherman’s boat off the coast of Misrata, the Italian news agency Agi reported.
Quinci said the navy ship managed to rescue the man, who was injured in one arm.
He added that the incident marked the second time in a week that Italian fishing boats have been shot at.
Residents of Mazara del Vallo for decades have gone out near the Libyan coast to catch red prawns considered a delicacy and prized by restaurants.
One kilogramme (2.2 pounds) of the prawns can fetch up to 60 euros ($72) at the fish market.
However a territorial dispute has led to a number of serious incidents in recent years.
Last September, 18 fishermen from Sicily – eight Italians, six Tunisians, two Indonesians and two Senegalese – were captured on grounds they were fishing in Libyan waters.
The group was freed in December.
Tensions over fishing rights between Sicily and its North African neighbour were fanned in 2005, when Libya’s then leader Moamer Kadhafi proclaimed the country’s protected fishing zone extended 74 nautical miles out from the coast, in defiance of international standards.
The civil war in Libya has further exacerbated tensions with Italy, which advises its fishermen to avoid the contested zone.