The Moroccan government, through its department of maritime fisheries and the national institute for fishery research, has launched a new initiative intended to strengthen the sustainability of both fishing and aquaculture in the region. the initiative is called 'Blue Belt', Tarki Abdelouahed, engineer at the Moroccan department of maritime fishing, told Undercurrent News.
The project, which was proposed in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and other partners at the Marrakesh climate change conference last November, is part of an African package for climate-resilient ocean economies and involves nine other African countries, including Mauritania and Senegal.
The package aims to provide technical and financial assistance to support African economies dependent on oceans, and enhance resilience to climate change in coastal areas.
The 'Blue Belt' initiative proposes a global action plan, including a roadmap of "solutions" to be implemented based on three main areas of intervention, which include coastal observation, sustainable fishing and sustainable aquaculture, particularly seaweed farming.
'Blue Belt' aims to implement "a durable mechanism for the sector in Africa", Abdelouahed told Undercurrent.
"It is a project in phase of study, initiated by Morocco. Currently we are studying the feasibility, how we will develop the investments," Abdelouahed pointed out.
"Developed in accordance with the strategic guidelines of his majesty [Morocco's] king Mohammed VI, 'Halieutis 2020' intends to build the sector into a real growth driver for the economic and social development of the kingdom," Abdelouahed said.
Halieutis aimed to strengthen the Moroccan fishery sector's development and competitiveness. It planned to increase fish production to 1.2 million metric tons, to bring Moroccan fishery exports to $3.1 billion, and to triple the sector’s GDP by 2020.
"We have already achieved the country's total production which reached 1.6m metric tons, in line with the government's strategy to improve the fish industry's performance," said Abdelouahed.
The government's Halieutis strategy also aimed to increase fishery durability, improving research and quota management as well as boost the industry's competitiveness, building new infrastructure.
Morocco, with its 3,500 kilometer coastline, exports over 600,000t per year of frozen, fresh and canned fish and seafood products, worth €1.6bn per year. The country's fishery sector directly employs 170,000 people, and 490,000 indirectly.
Morocco exports approximately 80,000t of octopus per year, with catches stable and managed by fishing quotas.
Morocco is also the world's largest producer of sardine and exporter of canned sardines.
It produces 1.2m metric tons of pelagic fish, including sardines, per year. Canned sardine exports reach around 139,000t, worth $390m, of which approximately 45% is exported to other African markets.