Blue Economy, Springboard for Sustainable Development in Morocco’s Southern Provinces
The prospects and huge business opportunities offered by the blue economy in Africa were at the center of the first international seafarers forum held Feb.23-24 in the Southern Moroccan city of Dakhla with the participation professional mariners from 27 African and European countries.
During the event, maritime experts, seamen and representatives of civil society stressed the importance of global blue economy, which is valued at around $1.5 trillion per year as over 80 pc of international goods traded are transported by sea and the volume of seaborne trade is expected to double by 2030.
Furthermore, marine fisheries contribute more than $270 billion annually to global GDP while 350 million jobs worldwide are linked to fisheries while aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector and provides about 50 pc of fish for human consumption.
According to participants, sustainable marine energy can play a vital role in the social and economic development. For its part, ocean and coastal tourism can create jobs and spur economic growth.
Thus, countries of the South have been urged to protect, develop and preserve their sea resources and foster partnerships with the countries of the North in order to attract investment.
For Mr. El Khattat Yanja, President of the Dakhla-Oued Eddahab Regional Council, the blue economy is becoming a real driver of socio-economic development. He affirmed that the fisheries sector plays a key role for the region’s sustainable and inclusive development. It also accounts for 65 pc of the country’s overall production.
Morocco has coasts on the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, with a total coastline of 2,000km, and it has a 1.2 million sq.km marine economic zone.
Experts say the North African kingdom could become a major global player due to its huge sea resources. Fish products account for half of the country’s food exports.
Fishing activities contribute significantly to ensuring Morocco’s food security. It is one of the most job-creating and fastest-growing economic sectors in the country.
Morocco’s northern neighbor, the European Union is also supporting the sustainable development of the blue economy across the Union.
In this connection, the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund has just launched last week a new Blue Economy call, under which SMEs can apply, as single entities or consortia, for funding. The overall budget earmarked for the ‘BlueInvest grants amounts to €22.5 million.
The grants seek to address the challenge of developing and bringing to market new products, services, and business models for SMEs that could ultimately create profitable activities.
An information day about this call is held this Monday Nov.25 by the European Executive Agency for SMEs.