02 Mar 2014 05:00
Taghazout, Morocco is a small fishing village 12 miles north of the city of Agadir, in the south west of Morocco. The mostly Berber population in the village is estimated to be around 6,000. The main sources of income for the people are tourism, fishing and the production of Argan oil. Taghazout lies on the west coast of Morocco and is known for its abundance in tuna, bonito, and sardines. The village has been a fishing spot for over 100 years, with generations of fathers and grandfathers working side-by-side.
This traditional pastime has changed much in the past decade. Modernization has changed everything, from a shift in traditional livelihoods, to a shift in the type of tourism Moroccans are cultivating in the village. Modern equipment such as boat motors and tractors have cut down on the physical labor - before the tractor, wooden slabs were laid out and men would push and pull the large wood crafts up and down the shore. But this generation of fishermen is aging, and is not being replaced by the young. Young men in Taghazout do not wish to become fishermen as their fathers did, but instead more and more, to tap into the riches of surf tourism, which has become a booming industry in the area. They also commute to the factories nearby for stable work. These new factories sprouting up along the coast line are taking young would-be fishermen away from the village and polluting the waters they fish in.
Surfing tourism began in Taghazout in the early 1970s. It started out as a small surf community, and has since become a globally recognized location for surfers from around the world. Moroccans have bought up real-estate and businesses in the village and surrounding areas to prepare for their future in tourism. They also do this to compete with Saudi Arabian contractors building massive resorts up and down the coast between Agadir and Taghazout.
Tourism in Morocco is becoming a new keystone in the structure of the Moroccan economy. Foreigners come from around the globe to surf the world class surf that surrounds Taghazout and with them comes western culture. Taghazout so far has accepted the cultural and religious distractions without problem and many look forward to a future in the developing town. Some villagers fear what will happen too their culture, traditions, and religion as their culture and trades are turned into a tourism business.
"Without the tourism this town would be dead and the only jobs here would be fishing or the factories", said Tariq Kabbaj, the Mayor of Taghazout.