Tuna are highly migratory species that undertake large movements in their distribution areas, often traveling thousands of kilometers within their distribution areas. These migrations are dictated by two main reasons: reproduction and feeding.
The migration of these species is generally conditioned by hydrological, physical and chemical factors in the marine environment, which in turn determines their distribution and concentration areas. These factors include surface temperature, thermocline depth, salinity, and dissolved oxygen.
In Morocco, although very ancient, tuna and tuna-like species exploitation in the Moroccan waters was limited to the activity of tuna traps implemented on the migration route of these species and to the seasonal fishing carried out by other fishing techniques,such as seine, practiced by sardine fishery, longlines and other passive gears.
In the early 1990s, new tuna fishing activities were introduced in the sector, reflecting a significant increase in the production of these species. Thus, the appearance of drift-netting has led to a remarkable development of swordfish fishing in the Mediterranean. This gear has been banned in national waters since 2012, following the recommendations of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). Similarly, the development, beginning in 1994, of a small-scale fishery in the Ksar Sghir region (in the Mediterranean), using the hand line as a fishing gear, enabled the capture of appreciable quantities of large bluefin tuna , specially designed for the Japanese market.
Since 2003, a new longline fishery has been developed in the southern Atlantic area of Morocco (Dakhla) targeting swordfish. This activity has resulted in a significant increase in the production of this species at the national level. Although the national catches of tuna and tuna-like species do not exceed 1.5% of the total weight, they represent 8% in value, which shows the high commercial value of these species.
Given the increasing demand for tuna on the world market, especially the Japanese market, regional exploitation of these species has reached a worrying level, which has led ICCAT to impose tough Conservation and recovery of some species such as bluefin tuna and swordfish.
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