RO 640 million worth of investments to fuel growth of Oman’s fisheries sector

Buoyed by private sector-led investments estimated at RO 640 million ($1.6 billion), Oman’s fisheries sector is poised for the next phase of growth, according to a report by a consultancy firm that had played a key role in the formulation of a new blueprint for unlocking the immense growth potential of the industry.
Malaysian-based Permandu Associates, a private firm tapped by the Omani government to support the modernisation of the traditional fisheries sector in the Sultanate, says the country’s shift to a private sector-led growth model has “brightened” prospects for the future of this industry.
A landmark ‘Fisheries Lab’ supported by Permandu Associates in 2017, as part of Oman’s National Programme for Enhancing Economic Diversification (Tanfeedh), has paved the way for the transformation of the Sultanate’s fisheries sector.
The Lab focused on three key objectives: harnessing Oman’s natural biomass potential in the Sea of Oman, Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean; developing high-value aquaculture projects in collaboration with the private sector; and driving investment in a thriving processing and exports sector focused on value addition to raw produce.
According to Permandu, the Lab sought to address longstanding deficiencies in the Sultanate’s fisheries sector that were barriers to its sustainable development and modernisation. For example, despite the Sultanate’s proximity to potentially prodigious fish resources in the surrounding seas, the sector succeeded in tapping only 2-3 per cent of the biomass. Besides, fisheries processing and exports were largely limited to raw fish and primary processing with little value-addition, it noted.
The Lab contributed to the development of a National Fisheries Management programme that enabled the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries to adopt a longer-term view in ensuring the sustainable exploitation of fish stocks. The initiative, for instance, involved better and more regular mapping of existing fish stocks to ensure that clear fishing quotas could be set to maintain and grow the industry. Furthermore, the programme enabled the Ministry to prioritise the development of fishery ports at specific locations that assured returns on investment, as well as benefits to greater numbers of Omani fishermen.
As a result of the Lab, more than 20 projects worth RO 640 million in investment are in various stages of implementation. It includes the world’s largest shrimp farm in Barr al Hikmah, according to Permandu Associates.
Many of these projects are essentially aquaculture schemes that will take advantage of expansive swathes of undeveloped coastal land or offshore waters for the establishment of large-scale fish farming ventures. As a result of agreements reached by stakeholder ministries and government agencies, the approval process for securing land for these investments has been slashed by as much as 90 per cent, the consultancy said.
“Permandu Associates’ bottom-up development of initiatives was effective in diversifying Oman’s fisheries in the aquaculture industry to ensure the sustainable exploitation of fish stocks,” the Malaysian consultancy firm added in a tweet posted over the weekend.