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Aquaculture Offers Huge Opportunities for Oman

OMAN - In a determined bid to make aquaculture a growing and vibrant food production sector, Dr Fuad bin Ja'afar Al Sajwani, minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Wealth called upon investors to exploit the huge potential available in the aquaculture and integrated farming sector of Oman.

He said the bye-laws (regulatory framework) for aquaculture farming are now in place and we would be calling for investments in aquaculture fisheries through media from next week, reports TimesofOman.

Dr Fuad bin Ja'afar al Sajwani said, "We are exploiting the available investment opportunities through locations dedicated for fish farming along the Omani coast as well as maritime locations. We are expecting local and foreign investments of about $100 million during the first round of announcement about the investment opportunities."

He said that the Ministry is anticipating that production will reach 220,000 tonnes with a value of RO340 million in the year 2030, the year set to achieve the target.

Dr Hamed bin Said Al Oufi, under-secretary (Fisheries Wealth) at the ministry said that constitution of a governing body for aquaculture investment, protecting the environment and human health, promoting aquaculture in a sustainable manner, licencing, fees, investment guidelines, quality control and use of fertilisers have been clearly defined.

Saoud Al Habsi, director-general, fisheries research, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries Wealth, said that the Musandum offers maximum potential for aquaculture while Al Batinah region needs to be tapped for integrated fish farming. He said this would be an opportunity for Omani investors to achieve high returns on their investment. A government fish farming company is under study that will participate in driving the sector's growth and will invest in the infrastructure of fish farming.

The total aquaculture output for Oman in 2010 stood at merely 127 tonnes. As of now, only shrimp and small amount of fish is farmed and production is minimal. The growth of aquaculture will help to enhance consumption of fish, playing an important role in food security.

Most importantly, with bye laws in place and investment guidelines announced, and sites identified, investors need not start from a scratch as basic ground work has been done by the authorities.

The identification of appropriate sites has been done and an atlas has been printed so that it would be easy for the investors to base their projects.

It is believed that the development of a lively aquaculture industry will not only increase seafood production but also decrease pressure on high value commercial species. Also, aquaculture might ultimately used to supplement declining populations of important species through enhancement programmes.

Lucy Towers

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