|The central organizers of the first-ever Sustainable Aquaculture Workshop in Dakhla, Morocco: Dr. Samyra Idllalene (in sunglasses), ELAW Staff Scientist Dr. Heidi Weiskel (in red scarf), and the head of Association Assalam, Mr. Cheikh El Mami Ahmed Bazaid (2nd from left).|
I returned from Morocco last week where I worked with partners to protect marine resources and communities from destructive aquaculture projects. Our partner in Morocco, Dr. Samyra Idlallene, together with the local NGO Association Assalam, hosted a public workshop on issues surrounding sustainable aquaculture.
What does sustainable aquaculture mean for coastal residents of Morocco? What rights do citizens have to determine how their coastlines are used? What projects is Morocco considering? Can Morocco balance growing aquaculture with protecting critical marine environments?
These are just a few of many questions addressed in the workshop.
I described aquaculture projects from the United States, Panama, Scotland, and Bangladesh that offered positive examples and cautionary tales. The workshop was held in the city of Dakhla, and we visited several aquaculture projects in the Bay of Dakhla, a unique coastal-desert habitat.
Part of the Bay is a Ramsar site -- meaning it is a wetland of international importance. Commercial development, including unsustainable aquaculture, is prohibited in such areas under the 1971 Ramsar Convention. But our local hosts and many at the workshop fear for this beautiful natural resource.
There are rumors that hundreds of investors are angling to secure leases to develop new aquaculture projects in the Bay of Dakhla.
Moroccans have an opportunity to demand strong environmental protections from their government and the aquaculture industry. We are proud of the tremendous work and vision of our partner Samyra, and we are eager to continue supporting her efforts in collaboration with Association Assalam in southern Morocco.
Many thanks to the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation for its support of this important work.
Heidi S. W. Weiskel, Ph.D.
Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW)
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