Muscat: Oman’s total fish production grew by 5.4 per cent to 270,863 tonnes last year, from 257,001 tonnes in 2015, thanks to a robust growth in the catch of traditional fishermen.
The contribution of the traditional sector in fish catch grew by 5.2 per cent to 267,981 tonnes last year, up from 254,767 tonnes in the previous year. In terms of value, the traditional segment brought in OMR199.65 million in 2016, against OMR169.42 million for the previous year.
Coastal fishing constituted 2,721 tonnes, registering a growth of 34.5 per cent over the previous year.
According to earlier reports, the Sultanate’s fish catch, including production through aquaculture, is expected to double to touch 500,000 tonnes per annum by 2020.
The overall plan to develop the fisheries sector, applicable from 2013 to 2020, included massive fleet expansion, additional harbours, development of fish markets, support to fishermen, aquaculture development and additional fish processing and logistics services.
Oman, with its long coastal line of 3,262 kilometres, has great potential to develop the fisheries sector to serve global markets.
The fisheries sector is one of the promising sectors in diversifying sources of national income, creating job opportunities and ensuring high value-added products.
Oman expects an additional 10,000 to 15,000 new employment opportunities to be created by 2020. Currently, the Sultanate has 46,000 people, who depend on fishing for their livelihood.
New employment opportunities will be available in different areas, such as fishermen, crew, processing plants, fish marketing firms, feed production, export agencies and aquaculture fields.
Another major focus is to manage the fisheries sector in a proper way by avoiding over fishing.
To strengthen fish production, Oman is also developing the Middle East’s biggest fishing harbour, facilities for sea food processing and packaging, facilities for storing raw materials and deep freezers for exports in the Duqm special economic zone.
The Duqm fishing harbour and integrated processing zone is being developed by the Special Economic Zone Authority at Duqm (Sezad), in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. The integrated processing facility, which will have around 60 fish processing units close to the harbour, is in the design stage now.
Also, Oman is in the process of developing eight more fishing harbours and ports of varying sizes, with a sizable investment as part of a comprehensive plan to strengthen the fisheries sector and create additional employment opportunities for youth.
By 2020, as many as 30 fishing harbours or ports are expected to be operational, against 20 such ports now.