Shrimps season kicks off in Sultanate

Jaalan Bani Bu Hassan: Fishermen today started the shrimps season in the Sultanate’s coasts particularly the three Governorates of South Al Sharqiyah, Dhofar and Al Wusta. The season will last for three months. The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries set the shrimp fishing season starting from September to the end of November each year.

The profession of shrimp fishing has long been one of the traditional profession of the Omani fisherman, one of the world’s most valuable marine species and nutritious seafood.

There are 12 shrimp species in the Sultanate, but only four species are fished in by the traditional nets, including white Indian shrimp, white shrimp, tiger prawns and dotted shrimp. Shrimp fisheries are found in the waters of the Sultanate in Masairah Island, the Wilayat of Mahout, the coastal areas of the Governorate of Al Wusta, along the coastal strip in the Governorate of South Al Sharqiyah.

Yasser al Meslahi, Director of Statistics and Information Department at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries said that shrimp is one of the most important fisheries resources in the Sultanate due to its nutritional value and increased demand in local and international markets.

He pointed out that the total production of shrimps from the traditional fishing in the Sultanate in 2017 amounted to about 509 tonnes, a decrease of 39 per cent compared to 2016 with a total estimated value of RO 1.4 million. Local use reached 211 tonnes while its exports reached 298 tonnes.

He added that the statistics indicate that the quantities of shrimp over the past four years witnessed a significant decline in production.

Hassan bin Hussein al Aghbari, Director of the Fisheries Department in the Governorate of Al Wusta, said that the Governorate of Al Wusta, especially the Wilayat of Mahout, tops the shrimp production over the last five years with 79 per cent of the total production during (2013-2017). He added that this is attributed to the abundance of production, the availability of the suitable environment for shrimp breeding, the adherence of artisanal fishermen to the rules of shrimp fishing season and the overfishing control, in addition to the increase in number of lectures and field visits to fishermen to raise awareness on shrimp season and commitments to dates of fishing.

He added that the Fisheries Department in the Governorate of Al Wusta seeks to meet with fishermen and to familiarise them with the importance of observing fishing seasons, the use of permitted fishing gear, and the non-use of prohibited fishing equipment that threaten the marine life and fisheries, as set by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries to ensure the sustainability of stocks.

In the Governorate of South Al Sharqiyah, shrimp production in 2017 reached 21 per cent of the total production in the Sultanate while almost no production in the rest of the governorates. The shrimp production in some of the coasts of the Governorate of South Al Sharqiyah reached 100 tonnes in 2017 compared to 207 tonnes in 2016.

Shrimp fishing is limited to the artisanal fishing sector as the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries is keen to benefit the villagers in the coastal villages to ensure the continued balance of the ecosystem and to control overfishing of shrimp. –ONA