500 cases of fishing law violations every month

MUSCAT, Oct 24 – The violations of fishing laws have doubled in Oman in recent years with an average of over 500 cases being registered every month. According to the Fisheries Control and Licensing Department, 4,600 violations were registered in the first nine months of 2018 and 793 expatriates arrested. This is against a total of 2,857 cases of violations in 2017 and 1,931 in 2016 under the Marine Fishing Law and Protection of Living Aquatic Resources. Scores of illegal boats and fishing tools were also seized.

Dr Hamad bin Said al Oufi, Under-Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, said searches and patrols will be intensified to prevent illegal activities in the fisheries sector. “Teams from the department, in cooperation with Royal Oman Police (ROP) and the Ministry of Manpower, and conducted six joint campaigns to arrest the violators this year,” he said. He was addressing the second annual meeting of the department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. According to a statement, the department will implement several plans in cooperation with other agencies to check such violations. An official at the ministry said that plans are afoot to install tracking devices on boats so that location of the violations could be identified and offenders brought to book.

“The number of violations is increasing, and we need strict laws to book the violators. The ministry is making all-out efforts to protect our marine wealth,” he said. Statistics reveal most of the violators are in Batinah, Al Wusta and Dhofar. “Unlicensed expats and illegal fishing methods have an impact on marine life and even the economy,” the official said. According to the law, small boats are not allowed to be used by expats for fishing. Only local fishermen can fish in them. Expats can only work onboard the ships. The use of prohibited equipment causes pollution, besides affecting the country’s fish stock. “This is the most important point that the ministry seeks to reduce and eliminate,” he added.

SAMUEL KUTTY