Model fishing villages planned on Oman’s Al Wusta coast

Two model fishing villages at the heart of the Omani government’s strategy to jumpstart the growth of fishing activities at key locations along the fisheries-rich Wusta coastline are making headway in their development.

The initiative, first conceived by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, is being facilitated by the Implementation Support & Follow-up Unit (ISFU) of the Diwan of Royal Court.  ISFU’s mandate is to fast-track projects and initiatives that promise to have a positive impact on Oman’s economic diversification goals.

Explaining the underlying objective behind the establishment of model fishing villages, ISFU said: “While Oman’s southern coastline is a relatively active zone in terms of fishing, the development of permanent fishing communities and accompanying infrastructure in the (Wusta) region has been limited. With this in mind, the aim of this project is to develop more infrastructure along this coastline, in order to attract additional fishing fleets and fishing communities.

Furthermore, the project aims to support the management of fishing activity in the area by aggregating all current activities scattered around the area into more central locations – and by eradicating non-registered boats through administrative procedures and public awareness. The fishermen village developments at Hitam and Sarab will unlock the potential for more catch quantities and increased quantity and quality of fish processing activities,” the task force elaborated in its latest update on the initiative.

During the course of 2019, ISFU facilitated the allocation of land by the Ministry of Housing for the development of model ‘Fishermen’s Villages’ at Hitam and Sarab.  Initial funding from the Ministry of Finance was secured as well, following meetings with the Supreme Committee for Planning. The first phase of a consultancy study charting a roadmap for the construction of the two villages has been completed too, says ISFU.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, the model villages will be developed on small parcels of land of about 30 hectares each. Over time, it is hoped that fishermen, drawn by the largely untapped fisheries potential of the Wusta’s coastal waters, will move into these villages in significant numbers and spark the growth of thriving fisheries communities.

The government, for its part, is committed to investing in basic infrastructure, including landing sites, local school, health centre, mosque, and so on.  The private sector is expected to follow suit with investments in motels, restaurants, shopping centres and other amenities, effectively laying the trappings of a full-fledged township.

Importantly, the active presence of local fishermen in these fisheries-rich inshore waters of the Wusta coast will also deter any illegal poaching, it is pointed out.