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Government Project to Boost Moroccan Fishing Industry

25 February 2013

MOROCCO - Although Morocco's fishing industry is one of the largest in Africa, it still faces challenges due to dated technology and fishing gear. In response, the Moroccan government has launched a project aimed at modernising the industry to encourage more investment.

To get the best out of its vast marine resources, the Moroccan government launched the ’Halieutis’ project . The project is a blueprint to expand the country’s fishing sector and has a set of goals that include adding 20,000 jobs to the industry and boosting exports proceeds to two billion euros by 2020, reports CNTV.

Moroccan agriculture and fisheries minster, Aziz Akhennouch, told the newspaper: "Although this experience is not more than three years old, it is a rich one and it has resulted in quick results for the fishing sector. People can see what was achieved and all the facilities that were put in place. They can also see the volume of investment and the infrastructure that was built to improve fish marketing and also the fishermen’s conditions."

This initiative includes an annual fishing exhibition. This year more than 35 countries from across the world participated. African countries were well represented, participants from Ghana, Senegal, Mauritania and Guinea were here hoping to learn from Moroccan experience.

El Hadj Mody Hady Diallo, head of strategy & development of Guiean Fishing & Aquaculture Ministery, said: "Taking part in this exhibition will allow us to have enough experience to interact with private Moroccan investors and to make the most of opportunities to eventually make deals between Moroccan and Guinean investors in the private sector."

The exhibition also saw Russia and Morocco sign a renewed fishing agreement. The deal allows 10 Russian ships to fish in Moroccan waters for four years. Despite this success for Morocco, the north African country has so far been unable to renew its fishing agreements with the European Union.

EU lawmakers fear a new fishing pact will strengthen Rabat’s control of the Western Sahara, a resource-rich territory to the south that Morocco annexed in 1975 and is still in dispute. But Spain, home to fish processing giant Pescanova, is leading calls for the EU pact to be extended.

Spanish agriculture & environment minister, Miguel Arias Canete, told CNTV: "We are a fish-consuming country. We import a huge amount of good quality fish products from Morocco. For us, Morocco is a very important fish supplier. There are many joint ventures, using Spanish funds and for us, there is a permanent cooperation in the fields of scientific research and training. If there is an agreement, so much the better, but for the time being, the Spanish government is pushing the Commission and insists there is a good deal for all concerned."

The fishing industry in Morocco has the potential to become an important tool in the fight against poverty in the country. Through this initiative, Morocco hopes the Halieutis Plan will raise productivity, preserve fish stocks and boost the country’s competitiveness in international trade.

TheFishSite News Desk

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