Fishers, chefs, producers and experts from the Maghreb at Slow Fish 2015 (Genoa, Italy)

A large delegation from the Maghreb participated in the 7th biennial Slow Fish event in Genoa, May 14 – 17, 2015. Fishers, chefs, producers and experts coming from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Mauritania participated in the event to share their experiences, bearing witness to the important work carried out by the Slow Food network to promote sustainable fishing in the Maghreb region.

More than 90 representatives from 26 countries met at Slow Fish to discuss how to find effective tools to affirm the cultural diversity of fishing in different areas, to protect small economies and artisanal fishing, and to unite local communities confronting common challenges.

Bachir Chabou from Morocco, President of the Maghreb Platform of Artisanal Fishing, participated in the meetings with other organizations, including l’Union des Communautés de Prud’hommes Pêcheurs de Méditerranée (UCPPM), LIFE (Low Impact Fisheries of Europe), WFFP (World Forum of Fisher Peoples), WFF (World Forum of Fish Harvesters & Fish Workers), ICSF (International Collective in Support of Fishworkers) and MedArtNet, the Mediterranean Platform of Artisanal Fishers. Abdellah Aarab, also from Morocco, assisted by two bottarga producers from Mauritania, prepared couscous using Slow Food Presidia products for a large audience of visitors. 

From Algeria, fishers Hacene Hamdani, Arhab Azeddine and Yacine Bachkar brought their experiences to share. Hacene, President of the Slow Food group from Algeria is the Vice President of MedArtNet, which brings together artisanal fishers from the Mediterranean area. It is an organization that was created to promote a model of governance in the region based on the shared management of resources and the ecosystems of the Mediterranean. Hacene is also President of the Maghreb Platform of Artisanal Fishing in Algeria and has participated in work sessions at the FAO, including the adoption of the document ‘Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication’. He became a spokesperson for the communities of the Maghreb, reclaiming the role of the artisanal fisher that holds traditional knowledge. The Maghreb Platform of Artisanal Fishing established the first protected marine area created by fishers in Algeria.

Hacene Hamdani and Azzedine Arhab were also invited to present their experiences at the Universal Exposition of Milan (Expo 2015) in the Slow Food Pavilion on Monday, May 18. The theme of the meeting will be “How to strengthen the community of artisanal fishers.” The Algerian fishers will explain how they organized on local, regional and international levels in order to confront problems such as ocean grabbing that is threatening their fishing rights, their livelihoods and their culture.

Back at Slow Fish in Genoa, Yassine Skandrani from Tunisia led a workshop on the contribution of small fishing communities in the creation of economic alternatives to industrial fishing. For this reason, Yassine worked on the project “Création d’un club transfrontalier pour la promotion des produits de la pêche artisanale- Club Bleu Artisanale”, funded under the program of Italy-Tunisia cross-border cooperation and co-financed by the European Union. This project creates a synergy between artisanal fishing and tourism-related initiatives, in particular between Tunis and Trapani, Sicily.

Also from Tunisia, Morsi Feki attended Slow Fish. Morsi works with fishers from the Kerkennah Islands, located off the east coast of Tunisia, where he created an association to raise awareness among young people about environmental issues, the sea, fishing and the preservation of local resources. On these islands, fishers use a special technique: they build a barrier with palm fronds to trap the fish carried by the current. However, for several years this traditional technique has been threatened by large ships that, to maximize profits, engage in trawling with enormous nets with heavy weights and metal wheels that scrape and destroy the seabed.

The lack of prospects for the future has prompted some fishers to devote themselves to agriculture, an activity that was traditionally carried out by women, which today is the only way to guarantee food security. Several school gardens have been created in recent years thanks to Slow Food’s 10,000 Gardens in Africa project. 

A delegation of women and salt producers from Mauritania came to Slow Fish 2015. Sid’Ahmed Abeid, President of the Federation of Artisanal Fishing in Mauritania and partner of the Maghreb Platform of Artisanal Fishing; Nedwa Nech, President of the NGO Mauritanie 2000; and salt and bottarga producers brought their experiences to share at the event. They too will be central figures at the meeting taking place on Monday, May 18 at Expo, in the Slow Food Theater, presenting “Fishing, bottarga and salt in Mauritania.” Industrial fishing, often practiced by other countries, threatens Mauritania’s resources at the expense of the work of the local fishers. Slow Food, the local NGO Mauritanie 2000 and the French association of salt producers, Univers-Sel, created the Slow Food Presidium to improve bottarga – dried mullet roe – production and produce quality salt locally in Nouadhibou with the solar “salicoltura” technique (Sa.Sol.No.).

For further information, please contact the Slow Food International Press Office:

Paola Nano, +39 329 8321285 [email protected]

Regione Liguria: Mauro Boccaccio, 010 5485727 [email protected]

Nuccia Cifarelli, 010 5488895 [email protected]

 Slow Food involves over a million of people dedicated to and passionate about good, clean and fair food. This includes chefs, youth, activists, farmers, fishers, experts and academics in 158 countries; a network of around 100,000 Slow Food members linked to 1,500 local chapters worldwide (known as convivia), contributing through their membership fee, as well as the events and campaigns they organize; and over 2,500 Terra Madre food communities who practice small-scale and sustainable production of quality food around the world.

Slow Fish. During Slow Fish, held biennially in Genoa (Italy), academics, researchers, small-scale fishers, representatives of public bodies and enthusiasts meet to discuss sustainable fishing and production, responsible fish consumption and the health of marine and freshwater ecosystems. A large market, conferences, meetings, workshops and tasting sessions make Slow Fish a unique event entirely dedicated to the world of fish. The event takes place biennially, in the odd years.

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