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Fisherwomen create Morocco’s first female artisanal fishing cooperative

Fatiha Naji, right, Fatima Mekhnas, center and Saida Fetouh, left, members of the first Moroccan female fishing cooperative go out to sea in a fishing boat. / Mosa'ab Elshamy -AP
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Artisanal fishing is no longer a male-dominated job. In Belyounech, a group of Moroccan women has set up the country’s first artisanal fishing cooperative, American news agency Associated Press (AP) reports.

«We live in the sea and if we separate from it, we will die like fish. The sea is my entire life and that of my children and the people of the village», Fatima Mekhnas, president of the Belyounech cooperative, told AP.

The residents of Belyounech who previously worked in Ceuta were forced to take up the tradition of their grandfathers. «I was a house cleaner and a nanny in Ceuta. I worked for families for 20 euros a day and made a comfortable living. But when the border was closed, I just stayed home for years and years, watching the sea from my window», Khedouj Ghazil, a member of the cooperative, said.

These women first started repairing the nets and cleaning the boats before thinking of creating their cooperative. The latter was launched in March 2018 «giving women all the necessary training so they can fish safely and professionally and know how to keep themselves from harm´s way», Thami Mechati from the National Maritime Popularization Center in Laarache said.

Fatiha Naji says she was «forced to become a fisherwoman» and was «insulted» after her husband lost his job as a street vendor when the border closed. «Men didn't like the fact that a woman is at the sea fishing», she told AP.

«Working in the sea is not easy but it is what my sisters and I love. It is finally coming true», Fatima Mekhnas added.

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