Morocco boosts data-collection capabilities with launch of USD 3.4 million research vessel

Moroccan research vessel.

Morocco’s state-owned National Institute for Fisheries Research (INRH) recently launched a MAD 34 million (USD 3.38 million, EUR 3.08 million) research vessel that aims to enhance the scientific institution’s ability to collect accurate and timely fisheries data.

The 22-meter Ibn Sina II research vessel is the sixth in the Moroccan fleet and is equipped with two biological and chemical analysis laboratories. It also has other advanced equipment on board, such as oceanographic measuring devices, and the capacity to deploy both passive fishing gear and remotely controlled gear.

The investment is part of a larger drive by Morocco to develop a sustainable fisheries policy.

“The Ibn Sina II represents a major step in terms of strengthening INRH offshore research by 2030 and the commitment of the Kingdom of Morocco for the development of its blue economy based on development of scientific knowledge and the preservation of the ecological balance of our ocean,” INRH said.

Morocco’s coastal areas contribute 59 percent of the country’s GDP and provide 52 percent of its jobs, with the fisheries sector in particular contributing 1.5 percent of the country’s GDP and accounting for 700,000 jobs in the country, according to a 2023 World Bank report.

Morocco, which produces an estimated 1.4 million metric tons of fish annually, has “an even greater untapped potential in existing and emerging blue sectors such as aquaculture, seaweed farming, and marine renewable energy,” the World Bank report said.

To tap that potential, INRH has sponsored several projects in addition to Ibn Sina II, investing more than MAD 1.15 billion (USD 114.4 million, EUR 104.4 million) in Moroccan fisheries research efforts over the past decade. 

These marine fisheries research projects include studies on Morocco’s coastal marine habitats, analysis of oceanographic and environmental factors that affect the country’s fisheries production, research on the dynamics of small pelagic fish species, and health surveillance of lucrative shellfish species.

The vessel, which was funded with support from the European Union – a market that imports nearly 58 percent of the North African country’s seafood exports – “offers the possibility to reach all coastal areas hitherto inaccessible to ships for deep sea oceanographic research,” which could include the contested Western Saharan coastline, the research institute said.

Collaboration between Morocco and the E.U. in improving marine data collection efforts along Morocco’s 2,500-kilometer coastline is one of many signals that the two parties are working to revive their fisheries partnership agreement (FPA), which expired in July 2023. The four-year FPA did not renew last July because the ... 

Photo courtesy of Morocco World News

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