Big wave of aquaculture

MUSCAT: The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries said that it presently has 24 applications for new aquaculture projects under different stages of processing the majority of which will be implemented during the current five-year plan 2016-2020, with an expected production of 293,000 tonnes per annum. A report issued by the ministry said that the total cost of these 24 projects stands at RO 852,670,000 and are expected to bring in RO 7.8 million as direct revenues and create 13,000 job opportunities.
The Sultanate is among the best Arab countries in terms of its potentials for the aquaculture industry as it boasts optimal conditions for fish farming and an attractive investment environment, including the strategic location, an excellent infrastructure as well as a governmental commitment to facilitate the processing of formalities.  The execution of five major aquaculture projects will commence in this year and the beginning of next year, one of which targets to produce 4,500 tonnes of Indian white prawn in Jaalan Bani Bu Ali. Another project is set to come up in Al Duqm with a capacity to produce 1,000 tonnes of abalone and 1,500 tonnes of grouper, the report said.
1010756The ministry also gave its approvals for setting up aquaculture projects which are expected to produce 1,000 tonnes of local shrimp, 500 tonnes of grouper, 400 tonnes of finfish species, 2.4 tonnes of sea cucumber, 850 tonnes of local shrimp, 900 tonnes of shrimp. This is in addition to the three projects undertaken by one company for production of 6,250 tonnes of grouper, 4,986 tonnes of local shrimp, 330 tonnes of abalone.
The Sultanate has identified aquaculture as one of the key pillars to diversify its national economy. The overall vision of the Ministry of Agriculture and fisheries is to develop a sustainable, competitive and environment-friendly aquaculture sector that meets the needs of customers from the high quality aqua products. The government scripted legislation regarding aquaculture in 2004 and in collaboration with FAO has developed a national strategy for aquaculture development in 2007.
Since 1997, the ministry has been engaged in different research and development projects on fish and shellfish culture. These included the investigations on abalone hatchery, mussel and oyster culture, shrimp farming and pilot trials on the cage and pond culture of finfish, suitable site selection for aquaculture, development of feed for cultured aquatic animal, hatchery development for finfish, seacucmer aquaculture and development of freshwater integrated Tilapia farms in Oman.
At present, five funded programmes are ongoing which include: Abalone aquaculture, which aimed to develop novel hatchery technologies and to examine the potential of enhancing the natural fishery, Sustainable aquaculture development in Musandam Governorate.
Experience gained from Ministry-funded projects and subsequent technology transfer has stimulated entrepreneurial interest in commercial aquaculture ventures. Currently, there is one commercial shrimp farm in Oman which produces local shrimp (Penaeus Indicus).
For freshwater aquaculture in Oman, there are 10 integrated tilapia farms which were established at the end of 2013 by local farmers with the support from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. There is also one private hatchery for tilapia.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries published different reports, books and leaflets that help investors and stakeholders. These publications include “Atlas of suitable sites for aquaculture projects in sultanate of Oman” which will facilitate aquaculture industries in selecting the right sites for their interested selected species, marine cage aquaculture, Environmental Best Management Practices manual, and the more recent one this year 2015 is the Investment Guidelines for Aquaculture Development in Oman for the purpose of providing information to potential investors in and developers of aquaculture projects in Oman. — ONA