Fishing industry in Morocco

  • 18 July 2014

Equipped with a coastline of 3,500 km of high biodiversity in the marine environment, Morocco has a high potential for fishing, which plays an important role in the economic and social development of the country. Similarly, the processing industry and exploitation of fish products occupies a privileged place in the Moroccan economy, providing 50% of the agro-food exports and 12% of the total exports of Morocco. Processing plants in Morocco treat more than 70% of fish landed by the fishing fleet, and the products are distributed in more than 100 destinations around the world.

With the support plan for the fisheries sector, called Halieutis, the new country’s strategy is aimed at four main goals for 2020, namely:

  • Increase the sector’s turnover to 22 billion dirhams (€ 2 billion).
  • Increased exports to 17 billion dirhams (1.5 billion euro).
  • Move the local consumption at 16 kg per capita / year (from ten current)
  • Increase direct employment of 115,000 workers on the ground.

Business opportunities for Italian companies, manufacturers of systems and equipment for the industry, are present in the following areas:

  • Production of canned fish, especially canned sardines
  • Freezing of fish
  • Processing and packaging of fresh fish for export.
  • Treatment of algae and the production of Agar-agar.


The characteristics of hydro – climatic Atlantic coast of Morocco make the region one of the most productive in the world in terms of fish.

The important biological potential in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of Morocco and the increase in global demand for sea products offer sound investment opportunities for operators Moroccans and foreigners. These two elements have changed the practices and structures of the sector at all levels, from management to marketing, through the exploitation of new technologies, institutional organizations and professional development.

Over the past forty years, this activity has evolved from artisanal and semi-artisanal fishing, which aimed primarily to pelagic species in most industrialized activity, which focuses on species with greater added value, export-oriented.

In view of his vocation as a major exporter of fish and to meet the needs of the market, Morocco has a modern infrastructure and has implemented a policy of development of the sector, in which the key words are “quality – competitiveness.”

With 412 processing plants on the ground, 319 fishing vessels and about 62,600 industrial direct jobs, the Moroccan fishing industry generates an average turnover of 1.4 billion euro. According to the National Federation of Industries Products Processing and Enhancement of Fisheries (FENIP), the sector occupies a privileged place in the Moroccan economy, producing 50% of food exports and 12% of the total exports of Morocco.


With regard to the consumption of fishery products, within the same Morocco, is currently around 10-12 kg per inhabitant per year, lower than the average level recommended by FAO. In this context, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has launched a promotion campaign in favour of the consumption of seafood products. This operation, conducted by the National Fisheries (ONP), was designed to inform and sensitize the public on the benefits of marine products on human health. The objective is to create an increase in the regular consumption of fish products. The transaction fits in line with the new policy of institutional marketing for the promotion of national and international of all the products of the sea Moroccan, announced in 2013 by the Department of Fisheries of the sea.

At the national level, a major effort was undertaken to improve the quality of fish products. However, the domestic consumption of fish for Morocco is hard to take off because of the relatively high prices of different varieties of fish. The length of the chain (commercial intermediaries between the fisherman and the consumer) weighs heavily on the final price. The vast majority of sea products (about 70%) are exported.


The potential for the export of seafood Moroccan is remarkable in light of the growth in global consumption of fish and its derivatives, despite a progressive scarcity of resources globally.


Processing industries in Morocco treat more than 70% of fish landed by the local fleet and its products are exported to more than 100 destinations around the world. Morocco is now a key platform for the export of fish products to the most demanding markets.

The chain of Moroccan preserved (boxing) of the fish is the result of a long evolution and accumulation of know-how. It currently includes more than 30 units of active treatment, which offers annual processing capacity of 300,000 tons of raw material and employing 21,000 employees between permanent and seasonal.

The chain of semi – preserves, however, focuses on the treatment and salting anchovies and marinated seafood products. This sector consists of approximately 20 units of production. It provides 6,000 direct jobs, including 1,000 permanent and 5,000 seasonal workers.

The chain of freezing occupies an important place in the fishing industry. Most of the units freezing are concentrated in the southern part of the country due to the development of fisheries and pelagic cephalopods. It employs around 6,000 employees.

The chain includes about 50 fresh-conditioning units, which employ about 2,000 permanent employees and 1,000 seasonal workers. The industry turns annually about 42,000 tons of white fish, destined mainly for European markets, including Spain occupies a share of nearly 73%.

With regard to the industry of flour and fish oil, this sector is active in Morocco from the 40s and has been a significant development in the last twenty years. The business is conducted by approximately 30 production units located primarily in the ports of Agadir, Safi, Tan Tan, Essaouira and Laayoune. The industry of flour and fish oil occupies nearly 1,000 jobs and caters to fishermen sardines, about 8,000 sailors.

Processing industry of algae (agar extraction industry) has over 50 years of business in Morocco. During this half-century of existence, the industry has sought to develop a maximum exploitation of this renewable natural raw material of the coast that has algae. This sector in Morocco has managed to climb to second in the world in exports of agar.

It is worth noting that, on the Moroccan market, the fish has not adequately assessed the extent to which more than half is devoted to fishing industries-product (oil and fish meal), while the transformation for human consumption is based on only three types of products, namely: canned, frozen and fresh. Similarly, a significant part of the catch is exported without any processing (90% of the catches of pelagic fish and white). Moreover, fishing in Morocco is dominated by pelagic fish (sardines and mackerel) that totals 800,000 T, out of a total of 1,116,650 T, 70% in quantity and less than 27% in value. If the statistics show an overall increase of fish, what ‘is mainly due to better management of data and the gradual emergence of fishing “informal” (economic activity not declared to the tax authorities). The industries of fishmeal transform more than 206,512 tons per year, corresponding to 26% of the catch, which is devalued by the protein layer on a less noble.

It is also interesting to analyse how the contribution of aquaculture to the total production of the fisheries sector still remains modest, with only 330 tons in 2013 this production is practiced mainly in the Bay of Dakhla, which helps with a volume of 280 tons of oysters, 84% of the total volume. The Regions of M’diq, respectively F’nideq and Oualidia collect 37 tons of sea bass and sea bream, 13 tonnes of mussels and 3 tons of oysters. The Moroccan government intends to make aquaculture an essential branch of the fisheries sector. This activity contributes to the reconstruction and regeneration of stocks that are overfished and helps to ensure food safety. The plan for the sector provides for an annual production of 200,000 tons by 2020.

For this reason, Morocco has signed, on April 14, 2014, ten conventions concerning the development of aquaculture projects in the Atlantic Ocean (Bay of Dakhla) and the Mediterranean, for a total investment of 1.3 billion dirhams (116 million euro).


In recent years, the fishing industry and fish processing sector has begun an ambitious strategy called HALIEUTIS. With major budget, this plan aims to modernize the sector, improve the competitiveness of its various components and promote the consumption of fish.

The plan Halieutis aims to increase the production of the Moroccan fishing and to triple production by 2020 this strategy also aims to modernize the various segments of the industry and set up a system of sectorial governance, which allows a gradual transfer of power regions and the private sector, promoting an effective dialogue between the government and the fishing industry professionals.

The new strategy is based on three main areas:

  • Sustainable use of resources and the promotion of responsible fishing;
  • The development of efficient fishing activities in order to improve the chain of manufacture of the product;
  • The strengthening of competitiveness to conquer new markets
  • The strategy will be pursued through:
  • Traceability
  • Reduce the informal economy for better traceability. To do this, we plan to implement the spaces in ports dedicated to fishing and to ensure better quality control of the products of the sea and the price mechanism.
  • Access to raw material
  • Support access to raw materials and to facilitate their introduction on the market. To achieve this goal, it is planned to create competitiveness clusters, in Morocco, in order to promote the improvement of the products and to extend their range.
  • Improve working conditions. The objective is to stabilize the amortization schedules of the vessels (10% minimum) and equip them with 100% cold storage. The new strategy aims to improve the living and working conditions of fishermen. It is organized professional representation and a transparent dialogue between the government and the industry, through the gradual transfer of power to the regions and the private sector.
  • Consolidate and share scientific knowledge. This measure is aimed at developing an inventory of fish stocks and a classification of the different species available for Morocco. In addition, this information will help to develop an integrated information system of fishing.
  • Labelling strategy. The national strategy for the fisheries sector has set up a label to better differentiate the Moroccan offer. In fact, the labelling which is intended to be implemented product differentiation in the industry, offering specific strengths to give confidence to the consumer at the time of purchase. The measure is available at national and international level on main product groups:
    • small pelagic fish,
    • large pelagic fish,
    • cephalopods,
    • white fish
    • shellfish

The brand chosen for the internal market is “Hout bladi, bladi min khir”, which means “the fish of my country, the wealth of my country,” while the slogan that has maintained an international level “Fish Moroccan approved quality”

  • In parallel, a comprehensive institutional marketing campaign around the concepts of health, diversity, sustainability, authenticity and tradition of the Moroccan fish is disseminated through communication channels. The total cost of public awareness that will be taken is estimated at 30 million dirhams in over two years (2.6 million euro).

The tax incentives granted to marine fisheries include the deduction of the cost of fuel on the turnover generated by the sale of the fish. Moreover, fishing exempted import, VAT and VAT to the “inside” of certain products or transactions. The exemption from VAT, however, is not automatic. Finally, the 2009 Budget Law establishes a trust fund called the Development Fund of sea fishing that will be used, among other things, for the support of scientific research; modernization of the fleet; strengthening the fight against illegal unreported and unregulated fishing; support programs for sustainable fisheries management and the promotion of quality development.




With a coastline of 3500 km and a high diversity of marine resources, Morocco has a high potential for fish. Fishing plays an important role in the economic and social life, is a true engine of economic and social development of the country. Similarly, the processing industry and enhancement of fishery products occupies a privileged place in the Moroccan economy, providing 50% of the agro-food exports and 12% of global exports of Morocco. Processing plants Moroccans treat more than 70% of fish landed by the fishing fleet, and the products are distributed in more than 100 destinations around the world. Morocco now has a modern regional platform for the export of fish products to the most demanding markets.


The fisheries sector in Morocco is very little industrial. In fact, the transformation and exploitation of fish resources remain undeveloped due to the lack of industrial investment, but also and above all because of a serious lack of technical expertise to develop the sector.


With the plan Halieutis, the new strategy of the country regarding the industry has four main objectives for 2020:

• Increase the total turnover of the sector to nearly 2 billion euro.

• Increase in exports to 1.5 billion euro.

• Bring local consumption of 16 kg per capita.

• Increase in direct employment land for 115,000 jobs.

Business opportunities for Italian companies are presented in the following areas:

• Tools and industrial equipment for the production of preserved foods, especially canned sardines

• Tools and equipment, industrial, freeze the fish.

• Tools and industrial equipment for the packaging of fresh fish for export.


The local consumption of fish products is still limited, because of the cost to the detail, determined by the chain too long of intermediaries.












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