The Sultanate of Oman Moves towards Aquaculture

Following the 15th meeting of the UN Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea that took place in the UN Headquarters between 27-30 May 2014 on the topic “The Role of Seafood in Global Food Security”, I was inspired to look at what is happening in Oman which led to be finding the following:

As the population of the Sultanate has increased over the years, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has decided to open  the door for investments in the field of aquaculture to meet the growing demand for fish for nutrition needs.

During the last two decades, with an improvement in the living standards and income, there have been both calls and complaints that not enough fish are being supplied into the domestic market. In addition, even those available were still not enough and the prices were very high per kilo, particularly in the interior of the country. On the other hand, the fishermen keep complaining that the harvest has been gradually decreasing.

The Sultanate of Oman has a long coast of 3,165 Kilometres, mainly overlooking the Indian Ocean (the Sea of Oman, Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea). More than 1000 different species are estimated to be living in its waters. With this in mind, and in realization of the above-mentioned facts, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has come to a conclusion that aquaculture is the right move in the right direction.

Consequently, and after conducting the necessary studies with the help of some expertise from States such as Norway, Chile, China, the UK, Malta and Turkey that have already developed expertise in this area, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries prepared and passed, with the support of FAO, Regulation No. 177/2012 of 2012 on ‘Living resources and controlling their quality’. The Regulation was amended in April this year by Ministerial Decision No. 102/2014, which sets out the legal framework under which projects in aquaculture can be conducted. The regulation allows for both inland (in farms) and coastal aquaculture, and stipulates the rules and requirements upon which licenses can be granted, with a remarkable emphasis on the protection and preservation of the environment.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has made available a considerable number of land plots in many locations along the coast where aquaculture projects can take place and open them to investment by enterprises, particularly those with small and medium size. The enhancement of aquaculture has begun, and there is agreement among both the Government and civil society that aquaculture will play a significant role towards the sustainability of fish, meeting the increasing food demand with low prices, creating jobs, bringing foreign investment, increasing production, and more contribution to the GDP.

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By: Mubarak Al Hinai, a UN-Nippon Foundation Programme Fellow 2014-2015

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