MOROCCO – In a significant stride towards advancing scientific exploration in fisheries, the National Institute of Halieutic Research (INRH) in Morocco has unveiled its latest research vessel, the “Ibn Sina II.”

The inauguration ceremony, presided over by Minister of Agriculture, Maritime Fisheries, Rural Development, and Water and Forests Mohamed Sadiki, marked a key milestone in Morocco’s collaboration with the European Union for maritime fishing and ocean sustainability.

With a budget of MAD 34 million (US$3.4 million), the 22-meter-long vessel is the sixth addition to the INRH research fleet.

The “Ibn Sina II” aims to play a crucial role in supporting Morocco’s blue economy development, boasting a five-day autonomy and the capability to cover the entire Moroccan coastal expanse.

This includes accessing previously hard-to-reach coastal zones for high-sea oceanographic research vessels.

Equipped with two onboard laboratories for biological and chemical analyses, state-of-the-art oceanographic measurement devices, acoustic sounding, seafloor mapping, and the ability to deploy passive fishing gear and remotely operated vehicles, the vessel facilitates studies of national coastal marine ecosystems.

The inaugural ceremony included a sea demonstration showcasing the vessel’s technical and scientific prowess, aligning with the Halieutis strategy to enhance INRH’s sea research capabilities by 2030.

Minister Sadiki emphasized the strategic importance of the launch within the Halieutis framework, promoting scientific research and strengthening the fleet of modern scientific and technical vessels.

Beyond the vessel’s launch, the event highlighted aquaculture projects in the Souss Massa region.

With 37 aquaculture projects currently in progress, targeting a total production of 45,200 tonnes and an investment of MAD 458 million (US$45.9 million), the region showcases significant potential.

A planned aquaculture hub in the Tiguert-Imi Ouaddar zone, covering six hectares, aiming to support the downstream aquaculture value chain, targeting a volume of 22,000 tonnes of packaged products.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States, Morocco’s fisheries sector holds prime economic importance, with capture fisheries production reaching around 1.4 million tonnes in 2017, primarily harvested from the Atlantic side.

While aquaculture production is limited, exports of fish and fisheries products in 2017 were valued at US$2.2 billion, underlining the sector’s significance.

The fishing sector provides direct employment to a substantial workforce, with the “Ibn Sina II” playing a pivotal role in advancing ocean research to support sustainable practices in this vital industry.