Morocco cooperative Merja Zerga and its artisanal fleet using nets and lines has successfully undergone Friend of the Sea audit for hake (Merluccius merluccius) and sole (Solea vulgaris vulgaris) thus gaining FOS sustainability certification.
Merja Zerga, accounting 150 boats and 480 fishermen, is a beneficiary cooperative within the FAO-CFC-INFOSAMAK project: “Technical Assistance for the Upgrading of Small-scale fisheries and their integration in International Trade”. In the context of this project Merja Zerga has been the first of a number of artisanal fishermen’s cooperatives to undergo Friend of the Sea audit.
The boats have maximum capacity of 1 Metric Ton. The fishing is carried out at 5 to 8 miles from the coast of Moulay Bouselham North. No protected areas are interested by the fishing activity and fishing gears have no impact on the seabed. Discards are less than 2% and endangered species are normally not by-caught by the fishery.
A waste management system is in place in order to avoid pollution.
“This experience, the very first in Morocco and whole of North Africa, will be a model for a number of other project beneficiary cooperatives in Djibouti, Morocco and Yemen”, explains Mr Abdellatif Belkouch, Managing Director of Infosamak. “Sustainability certification of small-scale fishery products is an important added value for a better integration of artisanal fisheries in the regional and international fish trade, and we are proud to have achieved such an international acknowledgement”.
“Infosamak has selected Friend of the Sea to assess fishermen’s cooperatives in the Arab North Africa region” comments Paolo Bray, Director of Friend of the Sea. “We are proud of having been selected and to provide this service in line with the FAO Guidelines and objectives.”
Manager Director– Mr Abdellatif Belkouch
Friend of the Sea
Friend of the Sea is an international non-profit certification scheme for products from sustainable fisheries and aquaculture. Certified products are fished from not overexploited nor IUCN Redlisted stocks and with selective methods which do not impact the seabed. Those originate from aquaculture are reared with respect of critical habitat, with no use of antifoulants, GMOS and growth hormones.