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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

Al Wusta Fisheries to invest in dedicated fleets for tuna, mackerel

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Al Wusta Fisheries Industries, a subsidiary of Fisheries Development Oman (FDO) – the fisheries sector investment and development arm of the government represented by Oman Investment Authority (OIA) – is making significant headway in the procurement and deployment of modern vessels with an eye on the potentially bountiful pelagic resources of the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean.


Notwithstanding delays and other challenges posed by the pandemic over the past year, the company has reported significant progress in its plans to establish dedicated fleets targeting, on the one hand, small pelagics – horse mackerel in particular, and on the other, large pelagics with the focus on tuna.


Envisioned is a fleet of freezer trawlers that when fully deployed will contribute around 200,000 tonnes per annum of horse mackerel to the company’s annual production, says a new report by the Implementation Follow-up Unit of Oman Vision 2040, which is tasked with facilitating speedy government approvals for strategic economic projects and initiatives.


Trial fishing operations launched as part of the first phase of the initiative has yielded optimistic results, according to the report issued here earlier last week.


“The first phase resulted positively in proving fish stock availability and fishing technology efficiency, which then resulted in approving the project plan by the (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources) to reach a fleet of 8 vessels by 2025.


The chosen vessels will be capable of netting 200,000 tonnes per year from the available 1.3 million tonnes, making a minimal impact on the stock.


Meanwhile, the company will assess the true biomass and potential of this species in Omani waters,” the report stated.


Starting with one vessel during the trial phase, Al Wusta Fisheries has since added two more vessels to its fleet with a combined investment of around RO 23 million.


The three vessels currently in operation have a combined capacity of 70,000 tonnes per annum, helping boost the company’s revenue and achieve a higher contribution to the GDP.


In conjunction with this initiative, Al Wusta Fisheries is also setting up a purpose-built factory at Duqm for the processing of horse mackerel for the export market. The modern plant, billed as the largest facility of its kind in the Gulf region, will add value to the company’s horse mackerel catch, the report said.


Separately, Al Wusta Fisheries is investing around RO 29 million in purse seiners equipped for commercial-scale tuna fishing. Approvals were obtained last year for the procurement of two tuna vessels with a capacity of 10,000 tonnes of tuna per year.


“The (Large Pelagic) project plans to develop an oceanic tuna purse seine fleet to assert Oman’s rights as an Indian Ocean coastal state to avail of its tuna resources, as the migratory tuna species are being fished all over the Indian Ocean by the countries along its coast,” said the report by Oman Vision 2040’s Implementation Follow-up Unit.


Following a tender floated in 2019, a contract was signed last September for the construction of purse seiners at an international shipyard. Delivery is anticipated in 2023, upon which the vessels will be deployed to the Indian Ocean.


Fisheries Development Oman (FDO), owned by Oman Investment Authority, has under its umbrella, Al Wusta Fisheries Industries, Blue Waters Company, Ocean Shrimp Fish Farming Company and International Marine Products Company.


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