Muscat – Production of fish from aquaculture projects in Oman has reached 1,703 tonnes in 2022, compared to 284 tonnes in 2014, according to Dawood Suleiman al Yahyai, Director General of Fisheries Research at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources (MAFWR). This is a whopping 500 per cent increase in just eight years.
Bestowed with a vast coastline, Oman is positioned to exploit its marine resources judiciously, making the fishing industry one of the major contributors to the sultanate’s GDP.
The future growth in the industry is envisioned to come from the bustling aquaculture sector as Oman has several large-scale fish farming projects under development, valued in excess of US$1bn.
“The ministry’s efforts and focus on small-scale fish farmers contributed to the increase in the production of freshwater fish farms from five tonnes in 2014 to 353 tonnes in 2021,” Yahyai informed.
Fish production from integrated fish farming and commercial fish farming projects reached 1,350 tonnes in 2022, the most significant project being that of the European seabream.
Talking about the commercial fish farming sector, the DG of Fisheries Research said, “Currently we have a big floating cage project in Quriyat to produce seabreams, in addition to two projects for the production of shrimps in Qurun and Khuweima in South Sharqiyah and a project for abalone in Dhofar.”
“The ministry has received many applications for commercial aquaculture projects, which are in various stages of approvals,” he added.
On the challenges facing the aquaculture sector, Yahyai said the fish farming like other sectors of food production faces challenges such as diseases and epidemics that may affect farms and cause large economic losses. “In some cases, it may lead to complete closure of fish farms.”
He informed that globally, the economic losses due to diseases reached to US$6bn. “Therefore, the importance of biosecurity has emerged as one of the important aspects of fish farming.”
MAFWR recently organised a workshop on the importance of biosecurity in fish farms.
“The workshop aimed at spreading awareness of the importance of biosecurity measures in fish farms, especially freshwater fish farms,” he said.
Talking about plans ahead, Yahyai said, “There are currently 28 integrated freshwater fish farms in the sultanate. We expect the abalone production to start commercially in 2023.”
Aquaculture projects in the sultanate are categorised into integrated aquaculture and commercial aquaculture projects.
The integrated aquaculture projects are based on the integration between agricultural activity and aquaculture. It aims to optimise the use of land and water resources in food production activity that contributes to food security.
As for commercial aquaculture projects, most of them take place at sea or on a land beside the sea.