On Monday night I went to visit the port of Essaouira, to see the arrival of the fishermen with their catch. It was buzzing with activities, there was a makeshift market where lots of locals (the Souiris) and restaurant owners come to buy fresh fish and the fishermen delivered lots of sardines, red mullet, squid, lobster, crabs…. There was no wind that day so the fishing was very successful. There were also lots of fishermen preparing their nets for the next day as well as repairing their boats for the rough seas of the atlantic.
Apart from the tourism industry, the port of Essaouira is still the primary source of income for most of Souiris. Although bigger ports such as Safi nearby have eclipsed it over the last century, in its hay day (19th century) Essaouira was the most important port of Morocco. It was here that the goods from the caravane trade (from sub-saharan Africa across the Sahara to Timbuktu and onwards to Essaouira) were loaded on to boats headed to Europe. Today it is exclusively a fishing port, which still provides a lot employment and provisions to Essaouira. That said, it is a very hard life being a fisherman here, they head into the rough seas of the atlantic with their wooden boats and too often they are casualties. This is why this profession has become the last choice for young people in Essaouira, but for those without higher education and privilege, the choices are limited.
This is why we love and are supporting initiatives such as Project 91 which helps these young people find alternatives, it is very important work they do.