Since I started this project in January 2007 improving the opportunities for the local population has always played heavily on any decisions I have taken in setting up and running Morocco Carp as a sustainable ecotourism and carp fishing venture.
Offering the local fishermen an alternative to commercial fishing as a means to make a living would seem to be the sensible solution. If Carp fishing is going to take hold and prosper here on Bin el Ouidane the local fishermen need to see that they can make as much or more from the Carp alive as by killing them and selling them in the local market. Carp has the lowest market price of all the freshwater fish that are sold, its not good eating as anyone whos tasted it will admitt (apart from the Poles and the Hungarians who have the barmy idea that Carp tastes good)
Some time back I made it as widly known as possible among the local fishermen on the lake that I would pay market price plus a bonus for any 20kg + Carp brought to me alive and well. I hoped they didnt catch too many big ones but it seemed like a financial risk worth taking if Morocco Carp was going to practice what it preaches - sustainable use of local resources. That statement really means returning all carp alive, but lets walk before we run and start with the big ones and work from there.
I dream that in the not to distant future, working with the local fishermen and the relevant regional and national agencies we can create a new qualification, a new profession for the local fishermen as a Profesional Fishing Guide. The parabael "give a man a fish and feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and feed him for life" - seems highly appropriate, but the local fishermen only need retraining in the skills of sports fishing, then they may feed themselves for life.
This morning just after first light Mr Elastrari, a local net and long line fishermen knocked on my door and told me he had a carp for me. The fish weighed 21 kg or 46 lbs and he had caught it the previous morning in his net along with another of around 9kg. The fish had been secured by a length of cord through the gill plate and out the mouth. Mr Elastrari had rowed the 4km across the lake with both carp swimming behind the boat.
The fish seemed in reasonable condition, a few scales missing, split tail and dorsal fins and some nasty net burns across the nose and face, but not in bad overall shape. Fingers crossed the stress hasn't been too much and it will survive and prosper to grace our banks and make someones holiday some other day.
Thank you Mr Elastrari and all the other local fishermen that have helped me and shared their stories.
Hopefully the first of many big Carp that we can save and return to Bin el Ouidane.