Muscat, JAN 27 – Oman Investment Fund (OIF), a sovereign wealth fund of the Sultanate of Oman, plans to set up what is billed as the nation’s biggest industrial fisheries companies, anchored by a mega processing plant that will rank among the largest in the Gulf region.
Investments in the proposed Al Wusta Fisheries Industries Company, a subsidiary of OIF, are estimated at RO 130 million. It is part of a substantive portfolio of investments planned – or in various stage of implementation – by Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWFs) of the Sultanate in support of Oman’s food security objectives.
Details about the new mega project were unveiled by Abdulsalam bin Mohammed al Murshidi (pictured), Executive President of the State General Reserve Fund (SGRF), the Sultanate’s largest Sovereign Wealth Fund, at the Agriculture, Fisheries & Food Investment Forum (AFFIO) held in the city last week.
Speaking at the event, Al Murshidi said the Sultanate’s wealth funds, most notably SGRF, Oman Investment Fund and Oman National Investments Development Company (Tanmia), have made sizable investments in food security related ventures.
According to the official, Al Wusta Fisheries Industries Company’s commercial activities will primarily centre on two key types of fisheries: (1) Small Pelagic Fisheries, and (2) Oceanic Tuna. The Small Pelagic Division will target a catch of 117,000 tonnes in Oman’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) annually through investments in a fleet of six purpose built pelagic trawling vessels. This catch will be processed at a mega plant with a capacity of 1,000 tonnes per day.
Supporting the Oceanic Tuna Division’s operations will be a fleet of four purpose built tuna purse-seiner vessels which will target an annual catch of 40,000 tonnes of tuna in the waters of the Indian Ocean. Total revenues are projected at RO 92 million annually, while the overall project is expected to create around 900 jobs.
In addition to the obvious socio-economic benefits associated with this important venture, there are several strategic advantages accruing to Oman as well, according to Al Murshidi. The project, he said, will target unfished resources that are beyond the reach of artisanal fishermen. These resources include small pelagic (horse mackerel) and oceanic tuna stocks.
Perhaps, more significantly, the project will enforce “Oman’s intrinsic right as an Indian Ocean coastal state and member of Indian Ocean Tuna Commission to access tuna on the high seas”.
Additionally, it will secure “significant new raw material for the development of a value added processing sector in Oman”, according to the official.
Besides creating Oman’s largest fishing company in terms of catch, revenues and employment opportunities, the project also envisions the establishment of the largest processing plant in the GCC.
In other benefits, Al Wusta Fisheries Industries Company will drive the inflow of industrial fishing technology and skills to Oman’s fishing sector, as well as provide opportunities to uplift the artisanal fishermen in Oman by enhancing access to technology, markets andnew skills.
Crucially, the project will contribute in excess of 150,000 tonnes of ‘new fish’ annually, effectively doubling the fishery sector’s current contribution to the GDP, Al Murshidi added.