With access to both the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean, Morocco is blessed with over 3,500 km of coastline, giving it access to some of the world’s most fertile fishing grounds, ranking Morocco the top fish producer in Africa and the Middle East. With these advantages, Morocco is poised to use small scale fisheries as a means for further economic and social development. Today, the sector employs around 500,000 people and the export of fish earns close to a billion dollars in foreign exchange annually, an essential component of the Kingdom’s monetary stability.
However, the riches generated by this sector remain highly concentrated in urban zones equipped with port infrastructure. In recent decades, profits have essentially been a product of good organization in industrial and coastal fishing industries as well as strong state supervision and guidance. The small-scale fishing community is very much in the minority at the ports. Despite the availability of basic infrastructure, their production remains marginal due in large part to inadequate training and organization.
Outside of urban zones, fishing remains a traditional small-scale industry along the coastline that relies on beaches and natural ports for embarkment. These sites are characterized by their lack of basic infrastructure, making fishing from them difficult and often dangerous. Basic facilities mean that fishermen are dependant on intermediaries for services at prices greater than in the regulated marketplace. Traditional fishing employs close to 100,000 Moroccans, but, due to the lack of sorely needed infrastructure, is nevertheless still a strictly seasonal and sustenance focused industry due to the lack of basic infrastructure and training for small-scale fishermen. The marginalized coastal populations who depend on fishing have found themselves mired in this precarious situation in spite of their coastline’s great, unexploited potential.
Despite these limitations, the small scale fishing sector in Morocco supplies the domestic market in addition to serving as an important national export. These two markets for fish products are both buyer’s markets and offer opportunities for strong economic growth. However, much is to be done since poor standards of quality are no longer tolerated by increasingly demanding consumers. The traditional fishing sector, characterized by low-cost, simple technologies that consume less energy than the rest of the fishing fleet, is in a natural position to take advantage of increased demand in the marketplace. Indeed, with cheap implementation costs and access to the most commercially sought after species, small scale fisheries are well situated for strong growth and development. Nevertheless, an effort must be made to improve informal ports, distribution and supply chains, operator training, and the organization of the sectors so as to realize strong, sustainable growth.
The project, financed by the MCC, aims to break the current cycle of poverty entrapping traditional Moroccan fishermen, and in its place create an industry marked by sustainable growth.
The project proposed tthe transformation of 20 informal landing sites already in use by the traditional fishing sector. These docks serve as micro-centers for development through improved infrastructure and access to marketing services, technical assistance and management, and training in a wide range of skills and activities. These focal points link the entire coastal population by creating a network of fishing communities. Moreover, the projects aim to increase access to the domestic market by integrating modes of distribution as well as by professionalizing the industry’s management. The project is contributing to transparency in the fish marketplace that are commercialized in structures managed by the National Fishing Office. The program also hopes to make fishing a year round activity for small scale fisherman with the goal of stabilizing and increasing revenues.
Through monitoring landing sites, supporting applied scientific research, and training beneficiaries, this project is strongly contributing to the preservation of coastal resources by ensuring that the industry develops in an environmentally sustainable manner.
Finally, the equal integration of women into small scale fishing enterprises is a vital component and has been addressed in the pilot projects.