Lack of fish in Omani seas highlighted
Muscat, June 6, 2012
The fisheries industries in Oman is facing challenges such as the lack of fish as raw materials, high prices, low capacity utilisation and low quantity of fish available for processing, said a top government official.
Salah Mohammed Abdo, industry advisor at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, was speaking at a major seminar on a wide range of issues from investment opportunities in fishing industries to modern techniques utilised for seafood industries yesterday (June 5) Sur College of Applied Sciences.
Abdo recommended radical solutions to the problem of lack of fish through encouraging artisanal fishing and fish farming, in addition to forming a committee comprising high level government and private parties to look into finding solutions for the development of the sector.
The event, which was organised by the Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (PEIE) represented by Sur Industrial Estate, offered an extensive review of the development triggered in the fisheries industry.
While offering an ultimate platform to circulate ideas, gain new perspectives, and provoke engaging discussions, the fisheries seminar strived to provide an opportunity for those interested in the sector to get acquainted on how the various parties in the country are ensuring sustainable development for the fisheries sector.
Abdullah bin Khamis Al Mukhaini, director general of Sur Industrial Estate, said, "Since its inception in 1993, PEIE has developed and is managing more than 81 million square meters of industrial estates in the various governorates of the Sultanate, namely Rusayl, Sohar, Raysut, Nizwa, Buraimi and Sur Industrial Estates, in addition to Knowledge Oasis Muscat and Al Mazunah Free Zone."
"The value of investments in these estates has touched over RO3.7 billion with an Omanisation rate of 40 per cent, more than 31,000 employees, in various administrative and technical disciplines.
"The wilayats of Al Sharqiyah South governorate embrace vital features to attract investments in fisheries industry such as the location and infrastructure services comprising fishing ports and road networks, in addition to the facilities offered by the government for investors to utilise fish stocks and invest in projects like fish farming projects,” he added.
PEIE has developed an area of 600,000 meter for light and medium projects in Sur Industrial Estate, as part of the first stage of infrastructure services construction including roads, electricity, water and telephone networks.
Communications are in process with concerned government authorities to complete procedures of investors and allocate appropriate spaces for their projects. Around 16 industrial projects have been allotted, besides two factories for processing fish are under construction.
The seminar featured two themes; the first emphasised on investment opportunities in fishing industries, which was moderated by Dr. Hesham Lotfy, Business Development Expert at PEIE.
Papers delivered by Dr Ismail Al Balushi, lecturer at the Faculty of Agricultural and Marine Sciences at SQU, and Mohammed bin Hamad Al Rizeiqi, associate researcher at the faculty, discussed advanced fish process technologies and the quality of fish products.
"Many of the methods used in the processing of fish in Oman mainly depend on the methods of drying through either solar drying, or through conventional air drying systems: salting, freezing, canning, smoking, mince, making burgers and fish fingers, as the case in many countries worldwide," Al Rizeiqi noted.
Juma bin Mohammed Al Maamari, head of the Marine Life Department at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, presented the estimates of fish stocks in the Sultanate. Al Maamari stated that the fisheries sector in Oman is the second main booster for the national economy after the oil and gas sector with RO117 million ($304 million).
"The total production is estimated at 158.7 thousand tons through 64 sites for fish landing. Moreover, the number of fishermen is exceeding 40,000 with number of boats above 18,000, and the number of wooden ships is around 704 and the number of coastal fishing vessels is 49,” he said.
Anil Kumar of Oman Fisheries Company underlined the company's experience in increasing the added value of fishery products.
"Fisheries sector occupies a very important role in socio-economic development of the country. It is a powerful income generator and employment provider. The sector works under an integrated network of procurement, processing and marketing. Yet, there is a need of optimum capacity utilisation of processing industries and it can be achieved through product diversification and value addition," Kumar pointed out.
Through our experience, we learned that value addition in seafood alone is not sufficient enough to meet the growing demand and more market penetration, Kumar stressed.
The second session, which was moderated by Dawood bin Sulaiman Al Yahyai, director of Fishermen Training Institute in Al Khaboura, addressed available investment opportunities for Omani youth in the fishing industry.
The theme introduced few of the government and private institutions involved in adopting youth projects and offering technical and financial support to small and medium-sized projects. – TradeArabia News Service