The appearance of cephalopods in the Moroccan Atlantic area dates from the early sixties. Prior to this era, the Japanese and Spanish fleets operating in the West African zone mainly targeted sparid fish and, incidentally, cephalopods.
The transition from fishing of Sparrows to Cephalopod took place in the mid-1960s. Several assumptions have been made regarding this transition:
- Biological substitution of sparidae by cephalopods due to overexploitation of the sparidae group;
- Climate change affecting the environment;
- Adaptation of fishing techniques to cephalopod fishing.
At the southern zone of Boujdor, the freezer trawl fishery for cephalopods originated from the early 1970s when the first Moroccan vessels were acquired.
Jusqu’à 1989, la pêche artisanale aux petits métiers était limitée dans les provinces du sud à l’exploitation des poissons blancs et de la langouste. La flottille de pêche artisanale ne dépassait pas 80 barques localisées principalement au nord de Boujdor. Le début de l’exploitation du poulpe se faisait à l’intérieur de la baie de Dakhla à l’aide des pots (Poulpiers) jusqu’à la fin de 1989.
The activity of the coastal segment targeting cephalopods in the South Atlantic has been developed since the beginning of the 1980s with the opening of Tan-Tan and Laayoune ports. Cephalopods have always been bycaught in coastal trawlers, boats and longliners (although the number of longliners targeting cephalopods remains very limited). However, coastal units fish a range of species (mixed fisheries), composed of cephalopods and associated fish, while small boats use gear that is more selective with respect to the targeted species.
Currently, cephalopods have been exploited by different segments : (i) artisanal boats; (ii) coastal trawlers; (iii) cephalopod freezer trawlers; (iiii) longline vessels that fish these species incidentally. Other operators are directly affected by this fishery, these are the freezing plants located mainly in Dakhla, Laayoune, Tan-Tan, Agadir and Casablanca. Hundreds of wholesalers and intermediaries are also involved in the marketing system of these species in Morocco.
These fleets exploiting cephalopods along the Moroccan continental shelf are distinguished by their technical characteristics, the level of investment injected as well as the exploitation strategies that are linked to the dynamics of the resources and the demand of the external markets.
The fishing gear used in this fishery is multiple, passive gear (pots, jigs, nets and traps) and active gear (trawls of types: atomic, Spanish and Korean). It should be noted that these gears capture cephalopods, plus a wide range of species.
The offshore cephalopod fleet operates only at the level of the management unit of the octopus fishery between Boujdour (26 ° N) and Lagouira (20 ° 50'N). This fleet is only permitted to fish beyond the 12 nautical miles of the coast for one to two months after the resumption of the winter fishing season and this distance is reduced to 10 nautical miles after that period. Coastal units, longliners and boats targeting cephalopods generally operate near their home ports and / or fishing sites. Coastal trawlers that are authorized to fish beyond 3 miles excluding management units are subject to the same zoning as the offshore segment at the management unit level but moderately exceed Cape Barbas. The activity of cephalopod fishing shows that the largest concentration of coastal trawlers exists at the level of the management unit at Laâyoune, Tan-Tan, Casablanca, Agadir, Larache, Safi and Nador.
The small boats are allowed to operate at the level of the section between 3 and 8 miles at the level of the management unit. To the north of the management unit, zoning is not applied to this segment except for hake fishing vessels that do not operate below the one-mile band.
Cephalopod fishing activity is more important at (i) specialized octopus sites Sub-units 1 and 2 (ii) Agadir, Safi, Essaouira and Sidi Ifni in the North Atlantic Area (Northern Ougnit) (iii) Al Hoceima , Jebha, M'diq and Nador in the Mediterranean.
Longliners are not subject to any zoning except those targeting hake that must operate beyond one nautical mile.
At the management unit level, the main target species is octopus (Octopus vulgaris). It is followed by two other species of cephalopods, the cuttlefish (Sepia spp), represented mainly by two species: the common cuttlefish: Sepia officinalis and the cuttlefish (Sepia orbignyana) and then the squid (Loligo vulgaris). However, although the octopus was considered as by-catch outside the management unit, a growing interest in this species has been felt along the Moroccan coast. Catches of cephalopods are also associated with other species such as sparidae and flatfish.
- FAO, 1981 (population dynamics, West Africa)
- Rapports des campagnes de prospection par chalutage de fond réalisées le long du littoral marocain pour l’année 2014 et 2015.
- INRH/DRH 2015 - Rapport annuel de l’Etat des stocks et des pêcheries marocaines 2015. 295 p.