Ja’alan Bani Bu Hassan: Fishermen on the coasts of the governorates of South A’Sharqiyah, Dhofar and Al Wusta are fishing for shrimp, with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries having allocated September, October and November every year for the same.
Shrimp fishing has been practiced by Omani fishermen since old times. Shrimp is of high economic value and a nutritious seafood.
There are 12 types of shrimp in waters of the Sultanate, but its fishing by the artisanal fishing nets is represented in four types, namely the White Indian Shrimp, is one of the largest commercial species in the world, the Tiger Shrimp and the Spot Shrimp. Commercial fishing in Oman, in terms of importance, focuses on two types—the White Indian Shrimp and the Tiger Shrimp—due to their abundance and growth into large sizes.
Shrimp-fishing usually begins early morning (4 or 6 to 10 am). Fishing is carried out in shallow depths of between five and seven metres, and every boat has up to 20 fishing nets. Each boat can usually collect nearly six kilograms of shrimp in each net.
Mohammed bin Al Natfa Al Junaibi, acting director of the Fisheries Development Department in Ja’alan Bani Bu Hassan, said shrimp is the most important wealth in Oman due to its nutritional value and growing demand in the domestic and global markets. He added that shrimp fishing is limited to the artisanal fisheries sector because the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries is keen on creating coastal villages, where shrimp is fished for the benefit, and to guarantee the balance in the ecosystem and to reduce overfishing of this type of unique wealth.
Al Junaibi explained that the department has implemented several programmes and awareness lectures this season for the guidance of artisanal fishermen in the wilayat that include familiarising the fishermen with the shrimp-fishing season, laws and regulations for fishing during this season and how to preserve this natural wealth.
He also affirmed that the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has called upon all artisanal fishermen to fish for shrimp through legal means, by using haul seines only, and avoiding using prohibited fishing methods, such as trawl nets.
According to data released by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, total shrimp production in 2015 reached 995 tonnes, including 845 tonnes by artisanal fishing, and 150 tonnes by commercial farming, with its total value estimated to be about
Shrimp exports amounted to 377 tonnes. The domestic consumption of shrimp reached 618 tonnes, and the total shrimp production in the Sultanate during the 2011 to 2015 period was pegged at about 4418 tonnes. The Governorate of Al Wusta topped the shrimp production governorates, followed by the governorates of A’Sharqiyah and Dhofar.
There is one farm that produced shrimp in the “Bintot” area of the Wilayat of Mahout in the Governorate of Al Wusta, which produced 150 tonnes of shrimp in 2015. Recently, three companies were given licenses to start shrimp farming.
Shrimp fishing areas in the Sultanate are located in the Gulf of Masirah between the Al Ghadhan area, and within the Mahout Bay till Ras Bintot in the east, and some coastal areas extending to the coastline of the Arabian Sea in the Governorate of South A’Sharqiyah.