Oman’s fisheries sector has huge potential for growth: WB

Muscat - 

The World Bank believes that Oman’s fisheries sector has plenty of potential to boost the contribution it makes to the country’s economy and become a world-class competitive industry.

The World Bank Group has supported the fisheries sector in the sultanate with wide-ranging policy and technical advice through a reimbursable advisory services (2014-2016), it said in a report published on Tuesday.

Although 99 per cent of Oman’s fisheries sector is still artisanal, its fisheries are just a few steps away from becoming a world-class competitive industry, said Banu Setlur, the World Bank’s senior environmental specialist.

Setlur said currently Oman only looks at the harvesting sector, the fishing itself, which contributed just 0.7 per cent to its GDP in 2015.

“But what we are saying is that it should include the entire value chain-from harvesting to processing to logistics, to wholesale, marketing and retail. If it were to do this that would double the current contribution fisheries make to Oman’s economy.”

“Oman’s development would also benefit from greater attention to markets, domestic and international; from high value fisheries, instead of just the volume of fish landed; and from value added, which would help create new jobs,” he said.

Setlur said Oman’s current income from fisheries is low and unsustainable; the amount of effort that goes into fisheries is high though, resulting in over-exploited fisheries as well as in reduced amounts of fish being landed, and in declining productivity. “To break this vicious cycle Oman, like other successful fishing economies, needs to manage its fisheries in a manner that will generate greater levels of income-levels that can be sustained over time.”

He said approximately 45,000 to 50,000 individual livelihoods depend on fisheries or related activities in Oman. In terms of revenues from fisheries, Setlur pointed out it is better to catch fewer but higher-value fish, and maintain the catch at a sustainable level of course.

When it comes to fisheries, Setlur said, “Oman is very open to learning from other countries, whether developing or developed; it is very open to hearing what the best practices out there are.”

If well managed, he said that fisheries can be sustainable, long-term resource that can contribute to Oman’s long-term vision of economic development and diversification.

“Using international waters and shared fisheries is also very important for Oman; it is up to it to work within international treaties, and with all its neighbouring countries, to come up with an understanding of what, if it did this, its quota of fish would be,” Setlur added.

International cooperation is key-for example, 90 per cent of fish harvest stocks in Norway are shared with other nations, Setlur said, adding, “And, if Oman were to become a hub for the GCC say in tuna, then that would really raise its job creation and income.”

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