The blue economy: An essential pillar for development

The government plans to adopt a national sustainable and inclusive blue economy strategy. This strategy will be deployed around the traditional economic sectors (fishing, tourism and port activities). New sectors with strong growth potential (aquaculture, ecotourism, biotechnology, shipbuilding, etc.) will also be developed. The blue economy is now an essential pillar of Morocco's New Development Model, and a new opportunity for its sustainable development. This is what the Minister of Equipment and Water, Nizar Baraka, has just underlined. “With its strategic geographical position, its two coastlines stretching over 3,500 km, its coastline, its fisheries and energy resources, Morocco enjoys significant maritime capital, and has real economic potential. blue,” said the minister in particular. Indeed, Morocco aims to adopt a national strategy for the sustainable and inclusive blue economy, adapted to regional vocations and deployed around traditional economic sectors (fishing, tourism and port activities), while developing new sectors. bearers of strong growth potential (aquaculture, ecotourism, biotechnology, shipbuilding, etc.). The implementation of this strategy will certainly go through the establishment of appropriate governance, and a strengthening of the central role of the territories in the development of the sectors of the blue economy within the framework of advanced regionalization. Scientific research, training, innovation and digitization are also important factors for the support and success of this strategy. In this sense, the equipment department, within the framework of the implementation of its strategic vision of enhancing the maritime public domain, was a forerunner in the establishment of an Atlas of marine and coastal potential, which identified and characterized all existing and potential activities related to the sea, with their geo-spatial distributions, listed in the form of a cartographic Atlas set up as a Geographic Information System. This Atlas constitutes an important first step, within the framework of a maritime spatial planning approach, to be pursued in close collaboration with all the stakeholders concerned, by adopting a multi-sectoral vision, and by understanding the sea as a space of excellent integration. Furthermore, Morocco “has an ambitious port strategy for 2030, which aims not only to position Moroccan ports as an essential platform in the logistics chains of the Mediterranean basin and West Africa, but above all the strengthening of the role of these ports as engines and catalysts of a territorial and regional development that is balanced on the social, economic and environmental level”, pointed out Mr. Baraka. In addition to the strategic axes relating to the construction of new ports, and the realization of major extensions, this strategy has dedicated a specific axis relating to the integration of ports into their urban environment, which constitutes one of the essential levers for the development of port cities, in particular through the insertion of ports in the city, the stimulation of the tourist offer and the attractiveness of the region as well as the promotion of maritime and port heritage. Thus, several projects have been carried out within the framework of this axis, at their head the project of reconversion of the Tangier city port, which has pleasantly transformed the maritime facade of this city. We could also mention the requalification project of the port of Casablanca, which aims to reinvent the relationship of this emblematic city with its port, without forgetting the construction of the marina of Al Hoceima, which has added a great tourist offer for the city. Other projects are in the process of being studied or planned, such as the conversion projects for the ports of Safi city, Kénitra city and Dakhla city. In short, Morocco now has a port infrastructure network of 43 ports, of which 14 ports are open to international trade, contributing to more than 95% of trade, which has ranked the Kingdom in the top 20 of the best countries in terms of maritime connectivity, noting that this efficient port network is perfectly in line with national and international policies and strategies relating to sustainable development. The equipment department, assured the Minister in particular, as well as the port authorities and players in the sector, are aware of the role that ports can play as accelerators of the ecological and energy transition, and of the contribution they can contribute to the achievement of the sustainable development objectives, in this case adaptation to climate change, the reduction of greenhouse gases, the prevention and fight against marine pollution and the proper management of waste, noting that the Morocco has positively subscribed to several initiatives and actions launched recently, seeking the contribution of the port sector. In the same perspective, the ministry, in collaboration with the port authorities, oversees the definition of an environmental plan for Moroccan ports, bearing a clear commitment and a concrete action plan to make a success of their ecological and energy transitions. Several projects will be completed or initiated, in order to promote green ports, in particular through the supply of clean electricity at port quays, the dematerialization and simplification of port procedures, thus making it possible to reduce the time of ship stopovers and their environmental impact, or even supplying ships with alternative fuels, in particular low-carbon fuels.