Mirbat – A first-of-its-kind abalone fishery project in Oman, with production capacity of 600 tonnes per annum, was inaugurated by H H Sayyid Marwan bin Turki al Said, Governor of Dhofar, on Thursday in Mirbat, Dhofar.
A joint venture of Muscat Overseas Group and Abagold, a leading South African abalone farming company, the project has been set up at a cost of RO10mn and is being run by Oman Aquaculture Company formed for the purpose.
The project is part of the plans of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources to encourage the private sector to diversify investment in the field of food security in general and fisheries projects in particular.
H E Dr Saud bin Hamoud al Habsi, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources, said that the project is among ventures realising the ministry’s vision for fish farming in Oman. “It also serves the local community and provides jobs for Omani youth,” he added.
The project covers an area of 37,240sqm, with construction spread over 8,900sqm comprising facilities and services that will contribute to the production of abalone at par with international standards.
An official of Abagold earlier told Muscat Daily that the project will help reseed and restock the ocean with abalone “in a well structured joint partnership with the ministry in Oman as well as local fishermen, whose livelihood has been destroyed by the reduction in natural abalone resource. We also hope to introduce abalone back into the region for local consumption and along with this we will be creating many jobs in the Mirbat region”.
The abalone stock 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 reope-ned after a moratorium of three years on harvest, sale and export.
With dwindling catch, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources imposes bans on fishing abalone from time to time, the latest being imposed for two years – 2020 and 2021.
For the last few years, fishing season has varied from year to year, spanning from ten to 25 days in December.