Challenges and Opportunities for Biocultural Conservation on Mediterranean Islands and Coasts
Sustainable Use of Fisheries and Marine Conservation with Communities.
AGIR – Association de Gestion Intégrée de Ressources, by Houssine Nibani
AGIR’s work is developed in different areas in Morocco. One of them is the National Park Al-Hoceima (PNAH) that consists of 19,600 ha of marine area and some land. This Park hosts unique biodiversity values and endangered and rare species, such as the monk seal, the osprey and numerous type of algae.
However the Park is facing different challenges, mainly:
- Urbanization and other human pressures as a result of rapid population increase.
- Damaging fishing methods: dynamite fishing, copper fishing …
- Illegal fishing
- Decline of several fish stocks.
- Plan for future coastal development and urbanisation.
- Touristic pressure increase.
Since 2008, AGIR is working with the artisan fishermen community (more than 2000 fishermen).
AGIR’s approach to these problems is the use of traditional local knowledge of small fisheries and their techniques, implemented through a community strategy and action plan, on the basis on an ecosystem based approach. The idea is to get the full implication of the artisan fishermen communities in an eco-systemic process for a sustainable use of resources.
Since 2012, thanks to MAVA Foundation’s support, AGIR has been able to put some of these conservation measures into practice at regional scale (eg: at the Alboran Marine Protected Area and the Mar Chica Laguna).
AGIR is working with cooperatives and small fisheries aiming at changing attitudes, and involving local authorities, NGOs, and other local actors. The negative impact that illegal fishing has on small fisheries is one of the most powerful arguments to get small fisheries involved and collaborating in their approach.
The Action Plan also includes the economic aspect, and increasing small fisheries’ profitability is essential. This can be achieved by promoting the use of traditional techniques and gears and the reduction of the illegal fishing catch.
Lobby actions at higher Administrative level are also included in the Action Plan. However, the impact of illegal fishing compared with legal fishing must first be estimated.
AGIR is also trying to empower cooperatives for improving product commercialization and therefore increase income and profitability.
There have been better outcomes because of participation through the strategy plan.
Most of the Objectives of Sustainable Development have been reached, such as:
- Restoring marine ecosystem biotope and biodiversity. (Eg. osprey number increased)
- Increasing fishing Cooperatives’ income, and women cooperatives.
- Reduction of illegal fishing.
- Participation of fishermen in conservation.
An important conclusion is that harmonisation of traditional and scientific knowledge is essential.