A Nicaraguan-flagged boat is defying orders to abandon Colombian territorial waters in the western Caribbean, Colombia's navy said.

The skipper of the Mede-Pesca-III said he was carrying out fisheries research on orders from the Nicaraguan government, the Colombian navy said in a statement.

The Mede-Pesca-III was operating around the islet of Quitasueño, one of six keys claimed by both Colombia and Nicaragua.

Colombian naval units confronted the Nicaraguan boat and demanded that it withdraw, but the captain of the Mede-Pesca-III refused, citing "clear instructions from the government of Nicaragua to continue with his purpose and follow his course."

Colombia's foreign ministry is pursuing the issue through diplomatic channels, the navy said.

The International Court of Justice is currently considering the competing claims of Managua and Bogota to the six keys surrounding the Colombian islands of San Andres and Providencia.

The ICJ has already confirmed Colombian sovereignty over San Andres and Providencia, part of an archipelago that lies 775 kilometers (480 miles) from mainland Colombia and 220 kilometers (140 miles) from the coast of Nicaragua.

Besides the six keys, Nicaragua claims some 50,000 sq. kilometers (19,305 sq. miles) of waters surrounding the islets. 

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