Women’s fishing co-op builds climate- resilient practices in Morocco

The co-op has received support from the UN to adapt its ways of working and mitigate environmental impact

A women’s fishing co-op in Morocco has received help from a UN programme to develop climate-resilient fishing practices. 

Moroccan fishing practices which have been passed down the generations are under threat from climate disruption to marine ecosystems. This has led organisations such as the Mahar Assahel Cooperative – set up in 2019 to support fisherwomen in Tiguert, near Agadir – to look at adapting the way they work, UN Women has reported. 

The co-op’s vice-president, Fadma Ouchane, explained her shellfish harvesting process to UN Women: “With a fine blade and a knife, I scrape while respecting and protecting the species’ habitat. In few minutes, my basket begins to fill.”

UN Women supported the co-op as part of a broader programme which worked with 650 fisherwomen to build their skills in leadership, entrepreneurship, financial resilience and sustainable fishing. The scheme also provided the co-op with eco-friendly equipment for harvesting shellfish, as well as for returning young shellfish to their habitats.

The fisherwomen have also made a move towards sustainable cooking practices, such as using solar ovens instead of forest firewood. 

Fatima Azdoud, president of Mahar Assahel, said: “We need to change our way of working by using modern technologies to respect the environment, preserve resources, optimise our technical-economic performance, and save water and wood resources while adapting to climate change.”

This way, she added, the co-op can “get closer to the demands of the community and the needs of the green and sustainable market”.

Members of the co-op have also been given protective wear to help prevent injuries on the rocky coastline and keep them warmer. The work is physically demanding and can be dangerous, but provides the fisherwomen with a reliable source of income all year round. The harvest generates around MAD 200 to 300 (£15-24) per month, depending on the time of year, and is generally used to supplement the families’ other income.

Leila Rhiwi, UN women’s representative in Morocco, said: “Beyond the economic benefits, gender equality and the participation of fisherwomen are necessary conditions for an open, inclusive and supportive society.”