Report any fish deaths off Oman coast: Ministry of agriculture and fisheries

The advisory was issued after marine biologists of the agriculture and fisheries ministry found potentially dangerous algae species off the coast of Oman. Photo � Supplied
Muscat: Relevant authorities have told fishermen and sailors to report any instances of fish kill off the coast of Oman. The ministry of agriculture and fisheries made this announcement on its official Twitter handle on Sunday.

�Monitor the signs of formation of the red tide phenomenon in the province of North Al Batinah. The ministry appeals to fishermen and seafarers to report any case of fish deaths through the number 98088545,� the ministry tweeted.



The advisory was issued after marine biologists of the agriculture and fisheries ministry found potentially dangerous algae species off the coast of Oman. These species can cause a harmful algal bloom (HAB), which can cause large-scale fish kill. The warning comes against the backdrop of the algae bloom that is noticed off the coast of Oman during winter.

Official sources in the marine science and fisheries department of the ministry said a team from their department had begun sampling sea water off the coast of north Batinah in January. They added that they found harmful algae species called Cochlodinium polykrikoides just last week.

�It is known that this is the season in which algae bloom, as it is winter. So, we started sampling sea water to screen for harmful algae last month. Significantly, we came across Cochlodinium polykrikoides only last week. This species can spread and cause a red tide. Therefore, the ministry has tweeted an advisory,� sources said.

It was, however, clarified that it is not necessary that the presence of this species would definitely cause a red tide. �This is of course a precaution. These particular algae may spread to cause a red tide. We can�t say it�ll definitely happen, but there�s a chance that it will. So, it is better that we take precautions and look out for instances of fish kill,� sources added.

Sources in the ecology department of the fisheries ministry clarified that the bloom off the coast of Oman was green in colour and was caused by Noctiluca scintillans, which are not harmful algae. They added that Cochlodinium polykrikoides were present in the seas and could still cause a red tide.

Khalid Al Hashmi, biological oceanographer at the Sultan Qaboos University, said a study of which he was a part of had identified 24 potentially harmful algal species in the Gulf of Oman. Cochlodinium polykrikoides was one such species. Research on this was conducted from April 2006 to April 2011.

A devastating HAB had appeared for the first time in Oman�s coastal waters in November 2008. It had covered the entire Arabian Gulf and Sea of Oman for more than 10 months.
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