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Aquaculture projects worth RO160mn planned

17 Apr 2023 By MOHAMMED TAHA

Muscat – Twelve fish farming projects, to be set up at a cost of more than RO160mn, have got commercial approval from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources (MAFWR).

In an exclusive interview with Muscat Daily, Dr Issa bin Mohammed al Farsi, Director of Aquaculture Development at MAFWR, said that fish farming or aquaculture is one of the fastest growing sectors in the food production business in the world, growing at a rate of approximately 9 per cent annually.

He added that statistics indicate that the world will need an additional 40mn tonnes of aquatic food in 2025 to meet per capita consumption in light of current indicators of world population growth.

According to Farsi, 12 aquaculture projects have obtained final approvals and are in the process of being set up. Among these are three in Quriyat – an indoor salmon farming project worth RO71mn of 20,000 tonnes capacity, a RO1.8mn tuna fattening project in Al Hajir, and the Taj al Bahr Company project worth RO1.6mn in the Ras Abu Dawood area of Quriyat which will produce 1,000 tonnes of kofer fish.

A RO13mn project in the wilayat of Jaalan Bani Bu Ali in South Sharqiyah will produce 900 tonnes of shrimp. An indoor fish-farming project for shrimp production costing RO13.3mn will also be set up in Jaalan Bani Bu Ali.

Other projects include one to produce 10,000 tonnes of seabass and kofer in the wilayat of Seeb at a cost of RO30mn, a finfish production project in the wilayat of Sur at a cost of RO32mn and one for the production of Omani abalone in the wilayat of Mirbat costing RO1.9mn.

“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 activities and aquaculture. These aim to optimise the use of land and water resources in food production activities that contribute to food security. As for commercial aquaculture projects, most of these take place at sea or on land beside the sea,” Farsi explained.

He informed that currently there are 28 small and medium farms for integrated farming in various governorates of the sultanate. The Governorate of South Batinah is the most feasible for integrated fish farming projects, while Muscat, South Sharqiyah and Al Wusta are best suited for large investment projects.

“The total fish farming production in Oman in 2022 reached 3,469 tonnes, of estimated value RO7.33mn, which was a 90 per cent increase from 2021,” Farsi said.

Of the total production, kofer fish accounted for 2,101 tonnes and white shrimp 1,078 tonnes, while the total production of tilapia fish was 290 tonnes. Fish farming relieves pressure on fishing of a few targeted species in natural fisheries, such as Omani abalone.

He added “The ministry aims to diversify fish farming projects in the governorates by establishing farming projects using floating cages and indoor fish farming in Musandam, South Batinah and Muscat, and fish farming projects in ponds in South Sharqiyah, Al Wusta and Dhofar.”

Farsi informed that Oman produces several varieties of fish through aquaculture. Now new species such as barramundi and carp are under study.

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