FOS certifies first artisanal fishery

Morocco cooperative Merja Zerga and its artisanal hake and sole fleet using nets and lines has been awarded Friend of the Sea certification.

Merja Zerga, which accounts for 150 boats and 480 fishermen, is a beneficiary cooperative within the FAO-CFC-Infosamak project that provides technical assistance to upgrade small scale fisheries and help them enter international trade markets.

Merja Zerga is the first of a number of artisanal fishermen’s cooperatives to undergo FOS audit. The fishery sees discards of less than 2 percent and endangered species are normally not caught. The boats have a maximum capacity of 1 metric tron.

“This experience, the very first in Morocco and whole of North Africa, will be a model for a number of other project beneficiary cooperatives in Djibouti, Morocco and Yemen,” said Abdellatif Belkouch, managing director of Infosamak. “Sustainability certification of small-scale fishery products is an important added value for a better integration of artisanal fisheries in the regional and international fish trade, and we are proud to have achieved such an international acknowledgement.”

“Infosamak has selected Friend of the Sea to assess fishermen's cooperatives in the Arab North Africa region" comments Paolo Bray, Director of Friend of the Sea. "We are proud of having been selected and to provide this service in line with the FAO Guidelines and objectives.”

In addition, Baja Marine Foods, based in Ensenada, Mexico has also earned FOS certification for its squid and sardine fisheries.

The targeted stocks are not overexploited and overfishing is not occurring. Bycatch is very low and almost no discards are generated (less than 0.01 percent).

“Friend of the Sea certification represents an important added value for our products," said Adrián Gutiérrez, Baja Marine general manager. “And we’re proud to be the very first Mexican company to have obtained this important acknowledgment.”


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