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Their waters wrested away, Colombia's island fishermen lament - and learn

Their waters wrested away, Colombia's island fishermen lament - and learn

Casting his nylon fishing line into the waters off the Colombian island of San Andres, like generations before him, fisherman Oreste Howard points to the horizon of the turquoise blue Caribbean Sea and shakes his head.

"Over there is a bank rich in fish, red snapper and lobster. The catch is very good."

"But we can't fish there. I'm afraid to go there," Howard laments, as his small one-engine motor boat bobs in the breeze.

The fear stems from a decades-long maritime dispute between Colombia and Nicaragua involving the archipelago of San Andres, Providencia, and Santa Catalina, and nearby seas.

The cluster of small islands in the western Caribbean, surrounded by coral reefs, lie about 775 kilometres (480 miles) from the Colombian mainland and 230 kilometres (140 miles) from the Central American nation of Nicaragua.

Colombia has long claimed the waters around the archipelago, as laid out in a treaty with Nicaragua in 1928.

But a 2012 ruling by the United Nations highest court - the International Court of Justice (ICJ) - redrew the maritime borders around the archipelago, in favour of Nicaragua.

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