Oman’s fisheries output more than doubles in five years

Muscat: Fresh and frozen fish landings at numerous locations along the Sultanate’s lengthy coastline totaled 580,240 tons in 2019, up from 279,160 tons in 2016 – representing an increase of 107 percent over the intervening five years.

The dramatic growth in fisheries output is a reflection of the increasing importance of the sector to Oman’s economic development and GDP growth, as well as the result of ongoing investments in new and upgraded fishery harbors, modern coastal fishing fleets, cold chain logistics and infrastructure, state-of-the-art wholesale auction platforms, retail souks, and the growth of overseas markets for fresh Omani fish.

According to newly published figures issued by the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI), fisheries production has increased year-on-year over the past five years. It soared to 553,445 tons in 2018, up from 347,541 tons a year earlier.

Contributing the dominant share of landings were artisanal fisheries – traditional fishermen deploying small low-tech boats fitted with outboard motors – with 555,210 tons, accounting for 95 percent of the total catch in 2019.  Coastal fisheries dependent on modern fishing boats pitched in with around 4,000 tons last year.

But emerging as a distinctive player in commercial fisheries, which contributed just over 20,000 tons last year, up from a mere 413 tons in 2018.    Aquaculture, a fledging new segment of the fisheries industry, has seen its share more than double to 1,054 tons last year, up from 451 tons in 2018, bolstered by sizable investments in the sector.

Significantly, sardine landings amounted to over 275,000 tons in 2019, accounting for nearly half of Oman’s total catch last year, while also driving new investments in canning, fish oil and fish meal projects.  Other small pelagics of note were Indian Mackerel (11,300 tons) and anchovy (17,482 tons).

Dominating landings among the large pelagics were Yellowfin tuna (37,000 tons), Longtail tuna (14,700 tons), Kingfish (2,100 tons), and Barracuda (10,900 tons).  Landings of key demersal species included Emperor fish (17,040 tons), Ribbonfish (15,200 tons), and Seabream (8,600 tons).  More than 5,000 tons of shark species were also caught last year.

Around 200,000 tons of fish were exported last year, earning revenues totalling RO 84.5 million for the country, according to NCSI figures.