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Project to upskill Omani fishermen to produce grade-A sashimi tuna

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A pilot project to promote Omani fisheries as a new source of grade-A sashimi yellowfin tuna in the global market was launched recently.

The project, launched in Masirah — off the Sultanate of Oman’s eastern seaboard, by the International Pole and Line Corporation (IPNLF) in partnership with Seafood Souq — includes equipping Omani fishermen involved in individual manual operations with the necessary skills to produce higher quality, top-notch tuna sashimi. Seafood Souq, which recently expanded its operations in the Middle East, will market the products on its digital platform.

“This collaboration focuses on targeted improvements in the tuna operations one by one offering high-quality, sustainably caught Omani tuna as an alternative source for the global seafood market,” IPNLF said. The pilot project, which uses the IPNLF’s Fisheries Improvement Toolkit, focuses on yellowfin tuna fishermen along Oman’s 3,165-kilometre coastline.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources estimated Oman’s total production of tuna in 2020 at 68,000 metric tonnes with a total value of RO 64 million compared to 37,000 metric tonnes with a value of RO 38 million in 2019. The 2020 tuna fishing season was an exceptional one with an 84 per cent increase due to the developments in the fishing port fleet along with decreased fishing activities in some neighboring countries.

“Omani tuna is mostly sold for the local market rather than exported internationally, but it has huge potential,” IPNLF said.

“The partnership, which also includes the Omani government, local experts and staff, plans to develop a quality assurance project for the country’s fishermen to enhance their competitiveness in the global market. The initiative also uses the combined expertise of the seafood market, along with partner ocean experts Oman, IPNLF Fisheries Improvement Manager Craig Turley, and IPNLF member Ryan Nynaber.”

“Through this program with IPNLF, we have successfully supported the four main goals of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, such as Zero Hunger, Decent Work, Economic Growth, Responsible Consumption, Production and Life Underwater,” Seafood Souq CEO and Co-founder Sean Dennis said.

Ahmed al Ghabri, Omani fisherman in Masirah said, “This project taught us quality method (of fishing). We heard about it and saw it on TV, but fishermen here have no background on it. The method taught us how to make the quality better of fish better. We can now see the difference in the quality. Previously, we would catch more but the price was low. Now we bring less catch, but the price is higher.”

During the pilot phase of the project, its partners provide technical training in fish handling and cold storage. The project hopes to “successfully demonstrate that with the right techniques, Omani handmade tuna can become of ‘first-class’ quality, and post-harvest losses can be eliminated”.

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