The Sultanate of Oman has attracted RO 79 million worth of actual investments for six fish farming projects last year, Dr Abdulaziz bin Said al Marzouqi, Director General of Fish Resources Development of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources said in a speech during the technical workshop on selecting and studying the management of sites designated for aquaculture in the Regional Commission for Fisheries (RECOFI), which was held in Muscat recently.
Al Marzouqi said that Oman endeavours to make the farming sector one of the main pillars of food security system. Through the joint efforts of Oman Investment Authority, represented by Fisheries Development Oman, and the private sector, currently there are 3 productive projects and another 12 projects under construction and incorporation.
The total fish farming production from farms in Oman in 2022 reached 3,469 tonnes, with a value estimated at RO 7.33 million, a 90 per cent increase from 2021 fish farming production.
Meanwhile, Dr Ahmed al Mazroui, Secretary of the Regional Commission for Fisheries and Senior Officer for Fisheries and Aquaculture at the Regional Office of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations in Cairo, explained the important role that fish farming plays in providing food security for countries by increasing fish production and providing fish continuously and regularly. “Fish farming meets the needs of markets and consumers, in addition to its role in raising the contribution of the total fisheries sector and in providing job opportunities,” he said.
“The global production of fish farming has evolved upward from 7.8 million tonnes in 1980 to 114.5 million tonnes in 2018, and is close to producing natural fisheries, and even exceeds it if we add the contribution of seaweed farming, which is growing,” he added.
Commenting on fish farming in the region, Al Mazroui said, “Production from fish farming in the Sultanate of Oman has doubled from about 1,300 tonnes in 2020 to more than 3,000 tonnes in 2022, and it is on the rise. Production in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has also increased to nearly 100,000 tonnes in 2020, and it is hoped, based on the plans set, that production will increase significantly by the end of this decade and reach 970,000 tonnes in 2029. The Islamic Republic of Iran leads in production, with more than 1.25 million tonnes in 2020.”
As for the importance of identifying suitable sites for aquaculture, Al Mazroui said, “Coastal areas are important for many sectors besides fish farming, such as fisheries, tourism, ports, maritime transport, submarine cables and other economic activities. Hence, spatial planning and identifying suitable sites for aquaculture is very important. The matter is not limited to the selection of sites, but it is necessary to organise and manage these sites in a comprehensive and sustainable manner. This includes many measures, including setting goals, setting the legal framework, determining the absorptive capacity, and implementing environmental studies, as well as training and capacity building.
He added that the fish farming working group in the regional body is aware of the importance of this issue at an early stage, and it was set as one of the priorities in an effort to build a sustainable fish farming sector that complements the rest of the economic activities of the region.