Harmful fishing methods pose major threat to sustainable fishery in Oman

Oman Tuesday 08/August/2023 12:33 PM
By: Times News Service
Harmful fishing methods pose major threat to sustainable fishery in Oman

Muscat: The Sultanate of Oman is distinguished by its geographical location overlooking three seas: the Arabian Sea, the Sea of Oman, and the Arabian Gulf. Which makes many of its residents rely on fishing as a profession.

According to the statistics of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources (MAFWR), the number of fishing vessels and boats in the Sultanate reached nearly 1494, and the government attaches great importance to fish wealth.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources stated that fisheries is one of the important economically promising sources and sectors, which works to increase the contribution to food security and to the gross domestic product in Oman.

Salman bin Hamad Al Farsi, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Omani Fishermen's Association, explained : "The most prominent challenges are the persistence of some fishermen and shipowners in using fishing methods that are harmful to the sustainability of fish stocks, stressing that the association is in constant contact with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources to work together to intensify awareness programs and control programs in cooperation with Other stakeholders."

Salman bin Hamad Al Farsi said that small pelagic fish play an important vital role in the marine ecosystem, which is the broadest, and a major source of food for many fish, and food security for coastal communities.

In a statement to Oman News Agency, he added that the association is working continuously and vigorously to intensify awareness and education programs on the importance of the sustainability of small pelagic fisheries, whether through meetings and field visits to a number of coastal areas and in cooperation with the concerned authorities or by using social media to broadcast many awareness messages. .

He said that there is cooperation between the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources and the association that always focuses on the general situation of fish stocks, especially the stock of small pelagic fish, and the importance of activating control tools and introducing legislation and laws necessary to sustain this fish wealth.

He believed that the sustainability of the fish stock of small pelagic fish comes through regulating fishing operations for some species: including sardines and ribs, and setting legislative and regulatory frameworks for the quantities and sizes available for fishing on an annual basis. Fishing areas are determined annually to reduce fishing pressure that affects many sites of fishing.

He pointed out the need to refer to the customs and norms followed in the Sultanate of Oman by fishermen that achieve added value, which depend on quality versus quantity, pointing out that the presence of fish oil powder industries is the threat to the deterioration of small pelagic fisheries on the southeastern coast of the Sultanate of Oman, which works Ensure that swarms of these fish do not reach the coasts of the Sea of Oman.

The Ministry stated that it is working to develop and manage small pelagic fisheries by issuing laws and legislation that regulate fishing operations with regard to the types of fishing equipment, their specifications and seasons of use without interference between the users of these fisheries and ensuring the sustainability of the catch, noting that it has issued a regulation to regulate the use of hedge nets (recirculation). / Al-Hawi) for fishing, the regulations for regulating the use of beach surface nets for fishing (Al-Daghawi), and the regulations for regulating Al-Hayal nets, in addition to the legislation for determining fishing distances and locations.

This sector provides job opportunities in various activities, in addition to its contribution to supporting other economic sectors such as: industry, tourism and services. It is a profession inherited through generations, and an economic and social activity in the Sultanate.

The Ministry indicated that the Sultanate includes a variety of marine life along its 3,165 km coastline, where small pelagic fish constitute an important fish resource in economic, social and nutritional terms. The total production of small pelagic fish for the year 2022 amounted to about 394,377 tonnes, which is (the percentage the largest of the artisanal fishing), with a value of OMR 109.5 million.

With regard to the manufacturing side of small pelagic fisheries, it stated that it is limited to freezing and drying, or its use in oil and fishmeal factories, and sardines canning factories, in addition to that small pelagic fish are exported fresh or consumed locally.

The ministry indicated that the Sultanate represented by the Ministry hosted a number of meetings and workshops to set guidelines and ensure the sustainability of small-scale fisheries for the countries of the Near East and North Africa, to implement them within the framework of securing sustainable small-scale fisheries in the context of food security, and also adopted a draft development plan and the management of small-scale pelagic fisheries in Oman within the context of the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries, which is being implemented with strategic partners in the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO).

The Ministry stated that the project includes all partners from the private sector and fishermen, stressing that the partnership will contribute to the formulation of a model plan that contains a set of important procedures and policies to achieve sustainability and optimal utilization of small pelagic fisheries, and will raise the capabilities of all interested stakeholders in managing and developing relevant practices. It is expected to enhance the value of value-added activities such as fish processing, which contributes to providing new job opportunities that improve the social and economic returns of the fisheries sector.

The ministry stated that it had approved some development projects to benefit from fisheries and increase their economic value by opening licenses to invest in coastal and commercial fishing vessels in the Arabian Sea at specific fishing ranges with sea distances within frameworks and laws regulating coastal and commercial fishing activities.

The Ministry stressed that Oman has a unique opportunity to implement the principles of the Code of Conduct in the planned expansion of small pelagic fisheries while maintaining healthy ecosystems.