Saâd Abid, a passionate Moroccan environmentalist and president of the Moroccan association Bahri, has been honored with the esteemed “OceanLove Innovation Award” in the Netherlands for his dedicated work in ocean conservation.

His groundbreaking tool, “Chbika,” designed to tackle micro-waste, clinched the first prize among entries from 38 countries.

“I would have been happy just to be among the five winners, as this is our first time participating in an international competition,” said Abid during his acceptance speech.

“Chbika” is engineered to efficiently collect and manage micro-waste, particularly microplastics, which pose a severe threat to marine life and ecosystems. Micro-waste, consisting of tiny plastic particles and other pollutants, often goes unnoticed but has a devastating impact on marine biodiversity. It is estimated that 171 billion pieces of plastic float in the world’s oceans, a number that could triple by 2040 if no action is taken.

Inaugurated in January 2024, the OceanLove Innovation Award is an initiative by OceanLove, a global nonprofit organization dedicated to ocean conservation. The award supports the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 14: “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development.”

This year, the competition saw a diverse range of entries, especially from the Global South, with finalists from Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, and South Africa. The award was decided by a jury of scientists and activists from eight countries, chaired by Sian Owen, executive director of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition.

Thirty participants were selected for a 45-minute interview, from which ten finalists were chosen and invited to The Hague. The top five received a grant of 5,000 euros each, with the grand winner, Saâd Abid, receiving a 10,000-euro grant.