Muscat: Omani fishermen are in an upbeat mood as the annual shrimp season is to begin on September 1 which will allow them to catch the white shrimps and the season will last for the next three months.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MoAF) has regulated the shrimp catch due to sustainability of the shrimps and to allow them to breed and multiply failing of which these shrimps which have high demand in the domestic and global markets would extinct.
“This three months’ shrimp catching season starting September 1 is the period during which the traditional or subsistence fishermen are allowed to catch the exclusive Omani white shrimp from the coastal areas of Oman”, according to Dr Lubna al Kharusi, Director General at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.
Omani coastal areas have 12 shrimp species but only four species are fished in by the traditional nets, including white Indian shrimp, white shrimp, tiger prawns and dotted shrimp. Shrimp fisheries are found in the waters of the Sultanate in Masirah Island, the Wilayat of Mahout, the coastal areas of the Al Wusta Governorate, along the coastal strip in the Governorate of South Al Sharqiyah. These shrimps found off the coast of Oman are of high economic value and very nutritious besides having high demand in both the domestic and global markets.
“We are glad that the shrimps season is approaching as these three months are very important for us. It’s a period during which we can make good money and our customers know about the season and pre-order the same from us. Some of us even make plans based on the season”, Mahmoud al Jordani, a fisherman told the Observer.
In the Sultanate, sustenance fishing, aka commercial fishing focuses on two types in terms of its importance. They aim at white Indian shrimps and tiger shrimps due to their availability and large sizes.
Fishermen venture out to the sea at around 4am and fishing is carried at the depths of between 5m and 7m and continue work till 10am. The Ministry has set certain guidelines such as the number of nets in every boat should be up to 20. Mahmoud said he and his friends are able to catch at least 6kgs of shrimps in each net. The regulations also say that no trawl nets shall be used to catch white shrimps.
According to statistics released by the MoAF, Oman produces about 509 tonnes of shrimps to the value of RO 1.4 million from the traditional fishing. It exports 298 tonnes while local consumption is amounted to 211 tonnes. However, the production is showing a dicreace of 39 per cent compared to previous years.
On the other hand, artisanal shrimp production in 2015 was 845 tonnes worth RO 2m and exports amounted to 377 tonnes.