Merja Zerga, a Moroccan beneficiary fishery cooperative under a CFC financed project “Technical Assistance for the Upgrading of Small-scale fisheries and their integration in International Trade” has successfully undergone a product sustainability certification audit exercise according to the standards approved by the Friend of the Sea (FOS) for hake (Merluccius merluccius) and sole (Solea vulgaris vulgaris).
The cooperative of Merja Zerga is comprised of 480 fishermen and150 boats with a maximum fishing capacity of 1 Metric Ton per ship. The fishing is carried out at 5 to 8 miles from the coast of Moulay Bouselham North. No protected areas are affected by the fishing activity and fishing gear seems to have no impact on the seabed. Discards are less than 2% and endangered species are normally not caught by the fishermen. A waste management system is in place in order to avoid pollution.
The project is to support the development of artisanal fisheries and fish processing in Morocco, Djibouti and Yemen. With the funding from the CFC and supervision from FAO, the project is executed by INFOSAMAK (Center for Marketing Information and Advisory Services for Fishery Products in the Arab Region). Sustainability certification of small-scale fishery products has an enormous value addition impact for the small scale fishing industry and ensures a better integration of artisanal fisheries in the regional and international fish trade. Merja Zerga is the first of an increasing number of artisanal fishermen’s cooperatives in North Africa to obtain the Friend of the Sea certification.