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US Investors Urged to Tap into Oman's Fisheries Sector

Economics Politics +2 more

OMAN - The Ministry for Agriculture and Fisheries Wealth is looking to increase aquaculture sector production to 220,000 tonnes by 2031.

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With an estimated 36,000 fishermen in the country, Oman is looking to harness new technologies to raise the living standards of fishermen and to scientifically enhance fish production in terms of both quality and quantity, reports theTimesofOman.

At an aquaculture workshop titled 'Techniques and Investment Opportunities in Oman's Emerging Aquaculture Sector' organised by the US Embassy and Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries Wealth yesterday, Dr Saoud Al Habsi, director-general, fisheries research, of the Ministry said: "The Ministry offers an attractive package for investors to promote aquaculture investment in Oman."

Welcoming potential US and other investors in the sector, he said: "The benefit of investment in Oman are free movement of capital and exemption from corporate income tax for five years (which can be extendable by another five years)."

He added: "The Ministry can secure special lands for aquaculture projects with minimal fee."

The Ministry is also keen to provide all facilities and information required by investors, through a system of single window 'one stop shop' in coordination with other government agencies to facilitate the procedure for entrepreneurs - the necessary permits - as well as to provide technical support and assistance.

Speaking on the occasion, W. Johann Schmonsees, US Embassy, Oman said: "The US Embassy is pleased that the fisheries minister (Dr Fuad bin Jafar bin Al Sajwani), the undersecretary (Dr Hamed Al Oufi), and working-level officials have all expressed enthusiasm about working with us to increase Omani fish exports to the US under our Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and to welcome potential US investors to tour local marine research and fishery facilities, and to facilitate exchanges between US and Omani researchers."

Mr Schmonsees said: "Oman is uniquely positioned to serve as a regional aquaculture hub with its ideal cold ocean drafts, well-equipped research centre and quality control labs, and traditional fishing culture, and the great talent of Omani scientists and those work in this sector."

Stating that while the FTA allows for duty free entry of most Omani products into the US, no fish is being exported despite premium prices for seafood, Schmonsees said: "This is a challenge for this new generation of investors now that the Ministry of Fisheries has implemented clear investment guidelines and we are standing ready to facilitate partnerships with US experts, technology and equipment suppliers, and investors."

He added: "Aquaculture offers the potential for new jobs along the value chain for young people, especially in rural areas outside the national capital of Muscat."

He also thanked the Ministry for its efforts in developing such a promising sector for the Omani national economy and for their role in cooperating and organising the workshop with US Embassy.

In his presentation 'Oman aquaculture permitting, regulation, government support, incentives and zoning, industrially oriented R&D towards agriculture development', Dr Fahad Saleh Ibrahim, director, Ministry of Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries Wealth (Aquaculture Centre), said the aquaculture centre would provide better opportunities for the advancement of fisheries and aquaculture. "We are aiming to increase aquaculture sector production to 220,000 tonnes production by 2031," he noted.

He also saw increased job opportunities in the sector saying 11,000 jobs have already been created in the last 20 years. In collaboration with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and Sultan Qaboos University, the Ministry has conducted several studies including sites suitable for fish farming.

Dr Lorenzo Juarez, deputy director of NOAA's Aquaculture Programme and Dr Michael Schwarz, president Elect of the World Aquaculture Society also participated in the workshop.