Yemeni Eritrean Delimitation, Completion of the Maritime Line [Archives:2001/18/Front Page]

April 30 2001

Political experts have recently revealed that there are potential shortcomings in the recently completed maritime line between Eritrea and Yemen, which in turn could result in severe fishing problems. According to the experts, the dispute between Eritrea and Yemen started initially when Eritrea claimed sovereignty over all the islands situated between Yemen and Eritrea. The International Law implying this act was illegal.


Map 1.  explains the memorandum put forward by the Eritrean side assuming that Eritrea has the right to claim sovereignty over the mentioned islands. On the other hand, Yemen explained in its memorandum that all citizens in the costal area of Yemen depend for their living on fishing in the South Western area of the Red Sea, which is deeper and richer than the East and North seas. Hence sharks are found there. Keeping in mind that Yemeni fishermen seek shark fins because of their high price abroad and because of the internal problems of Eritrea, the ratio of fishermen is 1:20 Eritrean to Yemeni. So, if the Yemeni fishermen were not allowed to work in the Eritrean side they (Yemeni fishermen) will be greatly disadvantaged. For ages the Yemeni fishermen used to fish as far west as Dahlac, The Mohabakf and Haycock islands.
Map 2. represents the Yemeni proposal regarding the issue.
The Arbitration Tribunal settled this dispute by confirming that both the Yemeni and the Eritrean side have the right to practice Traditional Fishing in the region, as well as to seek shelter in the islands in cases of turbulences in the red sea.
Map 3. Illustrates the maritime between Yemen and Eritrea. However, as noticed, the line drawn was not completed further the north due to the interference of Saudi Arabia, which claimed that the North of Jabal Al Tai’r is Saudi territory, in a letter to the Tribunal. However, by that time the dispute between Eritrean and Yemen was sorted because the Tribunal already decided the International Maritime Boundary Line. And because the borders between Yemen and Saudi are already decided, so that leave no matter of dispute anyhow.
Eventually in December 1999, it was agreed to complete drawing the line North of jabal Al Tair and further, which is actually the median line because the region is wide and there are no disputed islands in the region.
Nevertheless, the question whether or not Eritrea will submit to the Tribunal award is still posing, especially that Eritrea is well aware that Yemen is more advantaged due to the percentage of Yemeni Fishermen to Eritrean and that Fishery is much richer in the Eritrean side.