The Sultanate of Oman is rich in many ways, and the maritime sector is no exception. Located in a strategic Middle Eastern enclave connecting Africa, Europe, and the Far East, Oman has a coastline of 3,165 kilometers, two features for growing the seafood industry.
In terms of fishing, Oman’s strategic location provides access to both the Sea of Oman and the Arabian Sea, offering a wide variety of pelagic and demersal fish species. In the realm of aquaculture, the country’s diverse native species and expansive geography are strong advantages. While the aquaculture sector experienced gradual growth, it began to flourish exponentially in 2016 with the support of the Tanfeedh program, overseen by the Oman Vision 2040 Implementation Follow-up Unit (ISFU). This program identifies priority sectors and specific objectives, attracting the attention of investors to Oman’s aquaculture potential.
An economic and geopolitical situation that marked a before and an after
However, not only its characteristics favored the sector, but also the economic and geopolitical situation helped the exponential proliferation of the industry. Following the oil crisis of 2014, which caused some instability due to the country’s high prices, Oman embarked on a journey to broaden its economic horizons by venturing into the realms of fishing and aquaculture.
Thus, with such successful characteristics for the industry, there was no doubt that this was a sector to bet on. Thus began the horizon of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries in Oman, whose overall vision is for a sustainable, competitive, and environmentally friendly seafood sector that can meet customers’ needs with high-quality aquaculture products.
With the industry’s promising attributes, it was evident that seafood was a sector worth investing in. This realization marked the inception of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries in Oman, whose overarching vision encompasses a seafood sector that is not only sustainable and competitive but also environmentally friendly. Their goal is to cater to the discerning needs of customers by providing top-quality aquaculture products.
The creation of Fisheries Development of Oman to boost the potential
At this juncture, the establishment of the institution known as FDO, short for “Fisheries Development of Oman,” took place. FDO was created to advance the cause of sustainable fisheries and aquaculture within the nation. The founding partners of FDO were the Oman Investment Fund (OIF), Oman’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries Wealth (MAFWW) and Fisheries Wealth (MAFW). They collectively invested OMR 30 million (EUR 70.72 million/USD 77.93 million) in aquaculture and OMR 48 million (EUR 113.13 million/USD 124.68 million) in fisheries to promote sustainable practices
In a recent interview, Dr. Issa bin Mohammed al Farsi, Director of Aquaculture Development at the Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries Wealth Resources (MAFWR), shed light on the promising future that lies ahead for the country. Regarding aquaculture, he presented impressive growth figures, stating a 90% increase in 2022 compared to 2021. He also highlighted the existence of 12 planned projects in the country. In terms of fishing, it has contributed significantly to the country’s economy, accounting for 2.4% of its GDP.
More about the Omaní aquaculture
Two exciting projects are underway: Marine Fin Fish Cage Farms and the Al Bustan Marine Fin Fish Hatchery.
The Marine Fin Fish Cage Farms project is a bold initiative set to transform marine aquaculture. It features large offshore cages primarily for sea bream, with future expansion plans for species like Sea Bass and Barramundi. Covering an extensive designated area, Blue Waters is committed to spearheading the growth of aquaculture in Oman. Their investment focuses on cutting-edge processing facilities, offshore fish farming, and the establishment of complementary industries, including hatcheries and balanced fish feed factories.
The Al Bustan Marine Hatchery focuses on producing top-quality juvenile sea bream in a bio-secure setting for Oman’s marine cage projects. This initiative aims to speed up the creation of independent hatcheries connected to marine cages by developing year-round strains. Additionally, specialized breeding techniques are under development for Oman’s native aquatic species, ultimately enhancing marine fish production in the country.
Currently, the FAO is also conducting research on various other species. These include the breeding and production of Yellowfin Grouper, Golden Trevally, Sea Cucumber, and Oman Abalone. The goal is to develop technology and share knowledge about the controlled propagation of these four native species.
The piece concludes by teasing the next episode, which will delve into Oman’s fisheries in more detail.