Rabat – With more than 1.35 million tonnes of fish fished last year, Morocco ranks 17th among the 25 most important fish producing countries in the world.
Thanks to its two maritime facades on both the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean, a coast that extends over 3,500 km and its 1.2 million sq km of coastal areas that are exceptionally rich in fish, Morocco is the top fish producer in Africa and the 17th largest producer in the world, according to Morocco’s Office National des Pêches (ONP-National Fishing Department).
The Kingdom, which is currently organizing the international fisheries fair ‘Halieutis’ (Feb. 15-19) in Agadir, is also the world’s top exporter of sardines, the source added.
The exclusive Moroccan economic zone is endowed with large and varied fishery resources, comprising around 500 species distributed along the country’s coastline, with small pelagic species accounting for the largest part of production (over 80% of all catches).
According to a report recently published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Morocco counts around 110,000 fishermen and aquaculturists.
The same source adds that Moroccan fishermen fished more than 1.35 million tones last year, a number that places the Kingdom at the 17th position in the ranking of the most important fish producing countries in the world.
The fishing industry accounts for 58% of Morocco’s agro-food exports and 7% of its total exports. In 2015, the sector generated $1.59 billion in exports, according to the National Fisheries Office. And with a total catch exceeding 1 Million T, the fisheries sector accounts for 2-3% of Morocco’s GDP and generates 700,000 direct and indirect jobs.
Launched in 2009, the Halieutis Plan plans to increase the value of seafood exports to more than $3.1 billion by 2020. According to figures from the Foreign Exchange Office in 2016, exports of the agriculture and agro-food sectors recorded an increase of 5.1%, registering an additional gain of MAD 2.3 billion compared to 2015.
This increase is explained by the growth in shipments of products of the food industry by 5.7%, registering an additional revenue of MAD 1.4 billion, and a similar growth in fishery and aquaculture products by 24.2%, a gain of MAD 900 million.
According to the Foreign Exchange Office, in 2016 fisheries and aquaculture generated an export receipt of MAD 4.76 billion against MAD 3.83 billion in 2015, an overall increase of MAD 926 million.
The International Trade Center (ITC) disclosed in a statement that despite the important domestic consumption of sea products, domestic production is largely in surplus and supplies various international markets with the main species, in particular small canned and frozen pelagic fish (sardines) and their by-products , cephalopods (octopus) and crustaceans (shrimps), produced in the country.
According to the ITC, 8 countries to which Morocco exports are Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Portugal, the United States, the United Kingdom and Belgium. Spain alone imports more than 1.97 million tonnes in seafood products, 77.500 tonnes of which comes from Morocco.