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U.S. and Morocco Shake Hands on Sustainable Fisheries


From Driftnets to Buoy Gear

A scientific experiment in Moroccan waters is planned to test the use of buoy gear - a gear type developed in a U.S. swordfish fishery that has demonstrated decreased bycatch rates while increasing target catch rates.  As part of this project, scientists will work with Moroccan fishing vessels to test the effectiveness of buoy gear as an alternative to driftnets, which were previously in widespread use but were banned by Morocco in January 2012.  

Relative to swordfish that were previously harvested with driftnets, buoy gear harvested fish are likely to offer higher product quality (and price).  The simple construction of buoy gear involves minimal costs for care and maintenance by the fishermen.  If effective in Moroccan fisheries, this gear type potentially offers a small-scale, high-value yield, locally supplied solution as an alternative to driftnets.  By sharing this technology, we can support Morocco’s efforts to eradicate driftnets, an action that has many benefits for the marine environment.

Nov 13, 2012

Just yesterday a new step was taken in support of global sustainable fisheries – with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the United States and Morocco.  The MOU reflects efforts by both countries to embrace modern principles of fisheries management.  Joint projects already underway include a scientific experiment to test the use of buoy gear as an alternative to driftnets formerly used in Morocco’s swordfish fishery and an exchange of best practices in marine aquaculture.  Morocco hosted the formal signing ceremony in Agadir.  NOAA’s Deputy Assistant for International Fisheries, Russell Smith, has signed on behalf of the United States.

Photo Caption: Mme Zakia Driouich, Director of Ocean Fisheries and Aquaculture Ministry of Agriculture and Ocean Fisheries, Kingdom of Morocco and Russell F. Smith III, NOAA Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Fisheries, signing the U.S.-Morocco MOU, November 12, 2012.

Morocco – a Key U.S. Partner

Morocco and the United States share access to many highly migratory fish stocks, such as North Atlantic swordfish, and we are both members of the International Convention for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT).  Representatives of the two countries signed the U.S.-Morocco Joint Statement on Environmental Cooperation in 2004, related to the U.S.-Morocco Free Trade Agreement.  Environmental cooperation between the United States and Morocco aims to support effective enforcement of environmental laws in the context of expanded trade, strengthen economic incentives for environmental protection, and increase public awareness of environmental issues.  These collaborative efforts demonstrate that green economic growth supports environmental protection and increased job opportunities. 

Photo Caption: Staff from a commercial sea bass farm in M’Diq, Morocco discussing their operation with U.S. and Moroccan scientists. NOAA Fisheries is collaborating with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and Morocco’s National Agency for Aquaculture Development to support Morocco’s sustainable aquaculture goals through exchange of information and exploring potential projects for collaboration.