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Preparations in Safi, Morocco


Our school, l'Ecole du Plateau Bensouda in Safi, has a tradition of combining high standards of academic education with introductions to artistic expression in the form of theatre, painting, dance, pottery and other forms.

We are a mixed education establishment (open to girls and boys) and cover maternity, primary and secondary school sections. Safi is a coastal town on the Atlantic coast of Morocco.

Following the initiative of the Safi Teachers' Association S.V.T. six months of activities have been carried out in several schools on the theme: 'Marine Biodiversity of our City'. The objective was to introduce the students to biodiversity in nature, the importance of the sea for our lives, the wealth of our natural heritage and the importance of keeping it intact.

With the professional coaching of several teachers and including 8 students of our school, we entertained a rich programme of activities culminating in an exhibition in our school on 17 May 2009. It summarised the research findings and the results of our own explorations.

See the pictures of the exhibition and some of the students and teachers involved. The French summary account by A. El Mekkaoui, Teacher at the Lycée Plateau Bensouda, is available here.

We are also preparing a big school party for 27 June 2009 under the motto 'The Sea – this big unknown, but vulnerable entity' ('La mer – cette grande inconnue vulnérable').

We have already sent some paintings to the exhibition in Amsterdam, even if nobody can participate in person this time. But perhaps we can invite you to another joint event to Morocco? You are most welcome here.

For those who have not been to Safi before, here are some information to give you already an idea. Safi was a port the Phenicians use already for their navigation along the African coast. The famous North African historian, mathematician, astronomer, lawyer and statesman, Ibn Khaldoun (1332-1406), called Safi “the city of the ocean”.

More recently, it became the “sardine capital” because of the important industrial fleet and processing capacity. The 120 km of coast worked from Safi nowadays supports a fleet of 64 sardine vessels, 83 bottom trawlers, 217 longliners and 955 small fishing boats giving employment to 32,000 fishermen (22% of the Moroccan total). The 25 shipyards in Safi put out 60 new units per year and repair or overhaul 300.

The fleet lands some 7,000 tonnes of fish and seafood per year for an estimated value of 46 million dirham. 70% of the landed quantities are for the canneries. The principal fishing season used to be from March to October, but overfishing and environmental change and degradation have led to diminishing catches in recent years.

The principal species vary according to the fleets and their fishing methods. The demersal (bottom) fleet is operated by bottom trawlers and the small fishing boats and represents the highest value fishing activity.

The principal species landed are squid, conger, shrimps, gambas, gurnard, lobster, hake, seabass, spiny lobster, red pandora, (slender) rockfish, striped red mullet, sole, seabream and turbot. The industrial fishery targets principally the open water (pelagic) species, mostly sardines, mackerel, tuna and anchovy. If you want to learn more about these fishes, look them up in FishBase (, for other marine life, look at

The student newsletter "Echos Plateau" no. 13 focused thematically on the sea. It is published in French and Arabic and recently won a prize for best francophone student newsletter.