The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MoAF) has lifted the ban on abalone fishing this year after it banned it for two years in 2017 in order to replenish the stocks, which have continued to fall during the last few years.
Amending certain provisions of the executive regulations of the Marine Fishing Law and Protection of Living Aquatic Resources promulgated by Ministerial Decision No 4/94, H E Hamad bin Said bin Sulaiman al Aufi, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, issued a decision (246/2019) on October 30 to lift the ban on fishing abalone for ten days.
Pursuant to the Marine Life (wealth/resources) Law, promulgated by Royal Decree 20/2019, and based
on public interest, the decision stated that fishing and gathering of abalone is prohibited throughout the year, except from December 7 to December 16 of the same month.
This decision came into effect from October 31.
The abalone catch has dwindled over the years in Omani waters, with yearly catch hovering around 50-55 tonnes.
It went up to a high of 149 tonnes in 2011, when fishing of abalone reopened after a moratorium of three years on harvest, sale and export.
With the dwindling catch, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has imposed bans on fishing abalone from time to time, with the last one being imposed for two years in 2017.
In the past few years, fishing season has varied from year to year, spanning from ten to 25 days in December.
Fishing of shellfish, which has the highest yield per kilogram among all Omani marine products, was restricted to 12 days in 2016, while it was banned in 2015.
Before that in 2013, fishermen had a self-imposed ban on harvesting, while the ministry had put a moratorium on fishing for three years from 2008 to 2010.
Found in abundance off the coast of Dhofar, mostly in Mirbat and Sadah, abalone sells for as much as RO60 per kilogram when dried and exported.
Abalone variety Haliotis mariae, found only in the sultanate’s waters, is also one of the fastest-growing abalone species in aquaculture.
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