Morocco cracks down on illegal fishing

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The Moroccan government has brought into force a tough law that will punish fishermen who continue to use driftnets in its waters. WWF congratulates Morocco on this strong action against illegal and destructive fishing in the Mediterranean Sea.

Driftnets are fishing nets which drift with the tide or current – buoyed up by floats or attached to a boat – and can stretch for up to 14km long. A wasteful and destructive fishing gear, they are known to cause the accidental death or injury of many marine species.

A WWF report has revealed that some 3,600 dolphins and 23,000 sharks are killed annually by driftnets in Moroccan waters alone.

Under the new measures, fishermen caught using the destructive nets in Morocco will face up to a year’s imprisonment or heavy fines. Confiscated nets will be destroyed, ensuring that the banned gear will not be sold in other countries. Compensation will be provided to Moroccan fishmen who give up their nets, and will enable them to invest in more sustainable activities.

This new law follows the announcement earlier this year that money from the EU-Morocco Fisheries Partnership Agreement would help fund the phasing out of Morocco’s driftnet fleet.

“WWF applauds Morocco for cracking down on driftnet use by its fishing fleets,” said Dr Sergi Tudela, Head of Fisheries at WWF Mediterranean.

“Only by such a hard-line approach across the Mediterranean as that demonstrated by Morocco can we stop the destruction of vulnerable marine species which continue to be ravaged by driftnets."

Though illegal, driftnets are still widely used across the Mediterranean Sea. WWF is urging EU fleets in the Mediterranean to follow Morocco’s lead in stopping this destructive practice.

Source: WWF