Sustainability of marine resources and preservation of biodiversity: Morocco on the path to a Blue Economy

This article was first published on MSP Global 2030 website.

A boat on a beach

Thirty Moroccan representatives gathered in Rabat (Morocco) on 27-28 November 2019 for the first MSPglobal national training course in the country, where they gained new knowledge, shared experience and considered next steps for Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) and the Sustainable Blue Economy.

This first inter-institutional meeting allowed stakeholders ranging from government agencies, law enforcement, academia and research to sit around the table to discuss coordination and process for MSP and the Sustainable Blue Economy.

Important questions were raised, such as the main drivers of implementation of MSP in the country, the expected social, economic and ecological benefits, as well as the obstacles/constraints for a correct MSP implementation: data, mapping and institutional coordination on national and international legislation.

Nevertheless, while MSP in Morocco is still at an early stage, the potentials and advantages of applying it are evident and were broadly recognized by the participants.

“MSP is a formidable regulatory tool that will help us to develop a blue economy through the optimal use of marine and coastal areas – by limiting conflicts of use, regulating new space requirements, while preserving ecosystems,” explained Laila Bensmail from the Department of Maritime Fisheries. “Our biggest problem is urgency. Maritime activities are increasing and there is an urgent need to implement MSP at national and regional level.”

With the support of the Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the MSP Challenge game was used to simulate a planning process between three fictitious countries, during which participants were asked to define the vision, objectives, indicators, actions and stakeholders for short and long-term.

It helped to highlight issues that occur in real life during the planning process and triggered some deep discussions among participants. This training gave them more incentive to work collaboratively to develop their plans.

“These two days of training were very constructive. We have learned a lot about MSP and also put forward recommendations that can be applied in the national maritime space,” said Aomar Bourhim, Moroccan WestMED Coordinator and MSPglobal Focal Point in Morocco.

These included the establishment of marine protected areas to preserve living resources and habitats in the marine environment; more investment in renewable energy; the implementation of incentives for innovative projects linked to the blue economy and respectful of the environment; the creation of an interdisciplinary governance structure dedicated to MSP for the good governance of maritime activities and uses at sea; and awareness-raising campaigns on MSP among the private sector and the general public.

The course was co-organized with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Rural Development, Water and Forests. It will contribute to the development of a regional roadmap for transboundary MSP and Sustainable Blue Economy in the West Mediterranean, in line with the WestMED Initiative.


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Réunion d’évaluation de la feuille de route de l’initiative OuestMED

Une panoplie de représentants des principales entités liées à l’économie bleue a participé à la réunion d’évaluation de l’état d’avancement de la feuille de route de l’initiative pour le développement durable de l‘économie bleue en Méditerranée occidentale OuestMED/WestMED, tenue au Centre Régional de l’Institut National de Recherche Halieutique à Tanger le 10 octobre 2019.

Les participants ont exprimé leur grand intérêt aux actions et activités développées et en cours de réalisation par l’Initiative. Les départements qui ont participé à cet événement important sont : la Marine Royale, la Gendarmerie Royale, le Département de la Pêche Maritime, l’Agence Nationale des Ports, le Ministère de l’équipement, l’Institut Supérieur des Etudes Maritimes, le Département de l’Environnement, l’Institut National de Recherche Halieutique, le Département du tourisme, le Ministère des Affaires Etrangères et de la Coopération, l’Institut Agronomique et vétérinaire Hassan II de Rabat et l’Agence Nationale de Développent Aquacole.

Les opportunités au sein de l’initiative et le rôle du Hub National dans l’appui des projets marocains dans les appels d’offre européens ont été expliqués par le Hub National et le Coordinateur National de l’initiative. Une liste des projets en cours de préparation dans le cadre de l’initiative OuestMED a été présenté par le Hub National tout en invitant les partenaires marocains à s’impliquer davantage dans les différents projets.

8th Meeting of the WestMED Steering Committee

The Steering Committee of the Initiative for the Sustainable Development of the Blue Economy in the Western Mediterranean (WestMED Steering Committee – WMSC) met in Rabat, Morocco on the 23 October 2019. The meeting provided the opportunity for the WMSC to evaluate the implementation of the initiative, to reflect on the outcomes of the outgoing Franco-Moroccan co-presidency, and to introduce the future Italian-Moroccan co-presidency. Aspects related to potential funding and financing instruments were discussed, as well as the activities carried out by the Assistance Mechanism and the National Hubs in the WestMED countries.

The WMSC includes national coordinators from relevant ministries from participating countries (France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Malta, Algeria, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia), the European Commission, the Union for the Mediterranean Secretariat and observers from International Organizations and financial institutions. Their role is to ensure operational coordination, guidance and necessary support to ensure the initiative’s expected results are achieved.

More than 100 stakeholders at the WestMED Workshop Agadir

A WestMED workshop was held at the Salon Halieutis, in the 22th February 2019. It was attended by more than a hundred persons coming from private and public sectors, fishermen, fishery Department, students, and other blue economy stakeholders. The event aimed to promote and to present the WestMed Initiative and its implementation in Morocco.

The opening of the workshop was conducted by Mr. Yassine el Arroussi, representing the Moroccan Fishery Department. He welcomed the participants and thanked the EU Delegation in Morocco and the National Hub of France, for their participation in the workshop. He mentioned the major objectives of the Westmed initiative and recalled that it represents a part of the Moroccan blue economy strategy, initiated by the blue belt Initiative launched by Morocco during the COP22 of the Climate Change.

Mr. Didier Nils, head of the Cooperation section, Delegation of the European Union in Morocco, explained that the WestMED Initiative is a large scale program and that the EU in general as well as its Delegation in Rabat are fully supporting this Initiative. He also recalled the strengths of the region in the blue economy sector and the challenges facing the development of the region. He encouraged to benefit from all available funds.

Mr. Aomar Bourhim, Moroccan WestMed coordinator, recalled that the workshop is part of a series of workshops that were already held to promote WestMed Initiative in Morocco. He also presented the countries and the partners involved in the Initiative. In his speech, he also evoked the context and the history of the initiative and its importance for the sustainable development.

Mr. Mohammed Malouli Idrissi, Moroccan National Hub, recalled the priorities for action adopted according the Algiers Declaration, the priority actions for Morocco and the objectives of the Initiative and their related goals. He also drew up the roles and objectives of the assistance mechanism, in particular the National Hub. And finally, he presented a list of possible funds.

Mr. Herpers, French National Hub, clarified that the WestMED Initiative is part of a pro-active cooperation logic that aims to support the development of the blue economy. He explained the organization of the Assistance Mechanism, the National Hubs mission, and enounced that the steering committee is now studying the feasibility of labeling projects related to the Initiative priorities to support them while applying in European calls. He mentioned the project ideas that followed the lab activities in Algiers conference.

At the end of the event, the participants asked some questions about future projects and the possibility of integrating these projects. Explanations were given by the panelists.

Besides the organization of the workshop, the assistance mechanism was, since the beginning of Halieutis Salon present and continuously active at the EU Delegation stand, in order to promote the Initiative and the opportunities it provides. As a result, Mr. Ayman Jghab, Moroccan National Hub assistant, conducted more than twenty meeting with professionals, entrepreneurs, public institutions representatives, and blue economy stakeholders.