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Major Omani abalone farming project to come on stream in Q4

Promising potential: Government task force inspects suitable sites along Oman’s coastline for future aquaculture projects

The first phase of a major abalone farming project is set to come into operation at Mirbat in Dhofar Governorate later this year – an initiative that will showcase the enormous potential for aquaculture farming in general and commercial-scale abalone farming in particular.

In a tweet on Sunday, the Implementation Follow-up Unit of Oman Vision 2040 welcomed the imminent launch of the project, stating: “The Sultanate has great potential to become an investment destination for aquaculture. For instance, Mirbat Abalone Farming is one of the leading projects in the sector. It targets to operate the first phase during Q4 of 2021.”

The Unit, along with its predecessor — the Implementation Support & Follow-up Unit (ISFU) — has been instrumental in facilitating speedy approvals for this project, as well as scores of other strategic ventures and initiatives deemed imperative to Oman’s economic development.

Set up with an investment of around RO 5.7 million, the Mirbat Abalone Farming project has been developed by Oman Aquaculture Company – part of Muscat-based Al Jazeera Investments, a well-diversified Omani business house.

The project exemplifies a successful effort to commercially produce Golden Abalone (Haliotis Mariae), a high-value locally occurring species which is billed as the third most valuable species of abalone in the world.

Together with similar private-led farming and hatchery ventures under various stages of development on Oman’s Al Wusta and Dhofar coasts, the projects aim to sustain the farming of Omani abalone for local consumption and export as well.

Construction work on the farm was completed last November, according to a report issued by the Implementation Follow-up Unit. Annual output from the facility is estimated at 200 tons of abalone, with the first harvest expected in 2023.

Abalone production is projected to treble to around 600 tons per annum from 2025.

Separately, another subsidiary of Al Jazeera Investments is setting up a hatchery and 50-ton-capacity grow-out farm for abalone broodstock at Al Lakbi on Oman’s Wusta coast. Constructed on land leased by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources, the hatchery will use both flow-through and recirculating systems.

With the Omani government banking on aquaculture to dramatically boost its fisheries output for a number of factors — food security, value-addition through processing activities, employment generation and export revenues — a task force has been set up by authorities to allocate suitable land for future aquaculture projects.

Set up by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources, the task force also has representatives from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Planning, and the Environment Authority.

As part of its remit, the task force has already inspected proposed sites in the governorates of Muscat, Musandam, North & South Al Batinah, Al Sharqiyah South, Al Wusta and Dhofar, according to the Oman Vision 2040 report.

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