When I started with the Peace Corps, the first Rio Conference hadn’t happened. No one in Morocco understood conservation. Now it’s a different story. I’m no longer alone!

Fishing port of Al Hoceima, Morocco (c) Dave Stambouli-Alamy Stock Photo

A golden opportunity

Houssine spent childhood holidays fascinated by the sea at Bouznica Bay near Casablanca but his deep relationship with nature began with his grandmother – her knowledge of Morocco’s endemic plants was absolute.

Through participatory workshops with fishermen, women’s co-operatives, direct action and protection zoning, Houssine has helped the artisanal fishing community in Morocco become a conservation force – and still all as a volunteer while teaching biology.

Once plagued by illegal fishing and trawler encroachment, today the Al Hoceima National Park is on a new path. Ospreys flourish, dynamite fishing has ended, and fishermen make a better living. And the Ministry of Fisheries has a golden opportunity to replicate AGIR’s approach along Morocco’s Mediterranean coast.

AGIR is small. You don’t need big projects and lots of money if you involve the right people. Fishermen understand nature and we find conservation solutions together.

Recipe for success

In 2014, Houssine’s ability to catalyse change was internationally recognised when AGIR won the UN Equator Prize for Marine & Coastal Resource Management. More personally significant for Houssine was the 2005 Hassan II Prize for the Environment, vindicating and marking national acceptance of his work.

UN Equator Prize for Marine & Coastal Resource Management (c) AGIR

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Preserving living marine resources

Houssine and AGIR’s work is typical of our partners’ approach to the conservation of marine resources in the Mediterranean – making fishing more sustainable by reducing its impact on priorities species and habitats. Read more about MAVA’s action plan on this subject.

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