|INFORMATION ON FISHERIES MANAGEMENT IN THE SULTANATE OF OMAN|
is situated on the southwest end of the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian
Sea. The fisheries in Oman extend along the 1 700 km of coastline and
some islands, and are considered the most important non-oil source of
income for Oman. Total landings in 1998 were 106 168 t, with a value
of approximately RO 54 million ($US 140 million based on an exchange
rate of $US 1 = RO 386). The traditional fishery (defined as vessels
under 10 GRT) lands at many locations, but there are 30 centralized
landing stations in the six regions: Musandam, Batinah, Muscat, Sharquia,
Wusta and Dhofar.
The overall objectives for the sector are:
Specific fisheries management objectives include:
Demersal species are caught by both traditional and industrial sectors. The total catch of demersal species for 1989 was estimated to be 32 713 t, with 69% (22 590 t) from traditional fishery and 31% (10 123 t) from industrial fishery.
Traditional fishermen use handlines, gill nets, and traps to catch demersals, while the industrial fishery uses trawl nets for catching the same.
Management measures are directed towards the industrial sector and currently include:
Large pelagic fisheries
In Oman there are both traditional and industrial fisheries for large pelagics. The estimated total catch of this fish group for 1998 was 32 828 t, with the traditional fishery contributing 86% (28 356 t).
To catch large pelagics, fixed gill nets are used as well as lines. The traditional fishery uses handlines, while longlines are used by the industrial fishery.
Regulations controlling the harvesting of large pelagic include:
Small pelagic fisheries
Beach seines, cast nets and gill nets are used by the traditional fishery to catch small pelagic fish. Industrial trawl fishery catches a negligible amount of small pelagics incidentally, but they do not target these fish.
The estimated total catch of small pelagic fish for 1998 was 40 728 t. Currently there are no specific regulations controlling the harvesting of small pelagics.
Shellfish and mollusc fisheries
The estimated total catch of lobster for 1998 was 338 t. Traditional fishermen catch lobsters using traps. The main lobster regions are Dhofar (Southern Region), Sharqiyah and Musandam. Because of a decline in catch over several years, and as a management measure, there is a lobster closed season during the breeding and reproduction period, i.e from 1 February to 30 November each year. Management measures include:
Traditional fishermen catch shrimp by using cast nets. The total shrimp catch in 1998 was estimated at 65 t. Currently there are no specific regulations controlling the harvesting of shrimps.
The total abalone catch for 1998 was 40 t. Abalone is caught off Dhofar by free-divers, and air dried for export. Management of this high-value fishery include a seasonal closure from 15 December to 14 October.
Both the traditional and industrial trawl fisheries catch cuttlefish. The total cuttlefish catch in 1998 was 4 080 t (1 799 t from industrial trawl fishery and 2 282 t from traditional fishery).
Traditional fishermen use spears and bottom lines, but some cuttlefish are also caught incidentally in beach seines and by traps.
Shark and ray fishery
Almost all the catch is from traditional fishery using bottom lines and fixed gill nets. Rays are often caught incidentally by beach seines. Most of the impetus for shark fishing is to supply a foreign market for dried shark fins and tails, and therefore some shark bodies are wasted in this activity. Shark and ray total catch in 1998 was estimated at 4 805 t and 189 t, respectively.
Fisheries regulations prohibit the throwing of any shark part or shark waste in the sea or on shore. It also prohibit the handling, marketing or exporting of any shark part unless a licence is obtained from the competent authority.
These include a small traditional fishery for sea cucumber on Mahut Island in the South Sharquiyah region. Sea cucumber are caught by hand and the entire catch is dried and exported.
The main goals of the government strategy for fisheries include :
With regard to taxes, no tax is imposed on fisheries sector but there are certain nominal fees to be paid by the artisanal fishermen against the issuance and renewal of fishing licenses, and the industrial sector is required to pay 12% of the value of the actual catch within the permitted quota.
Enforcement of fisheries legislation is carried out by the Directorate General of Fisheries Resources, with the assistance of the Coast Guard of the Royal Oman Police and Royal Navy.
The Directorate General of Fisheries Resources, as the primary fisheries development and management agency, works closely with a number of government and parastatal agencies with regard to development of the fisheries sector in Oman. These agencies include the Ministry of Housing and Transport, the Ministry of Electricity and Waters, the Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Environment, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour, the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Sultan Qaboos University.
Fisheries management constraints include weakness in key fisheries information gathering, processing and utilization,and a serious weakness in enforcing fisheries law.
Activities of the fisheries sector are organized and governed by the Marine Fishing and Living Aquatic Resources Law, issued by the Royal Decree No. 53/81, dated 30.5.1981, and the Executive Regulations of the Law, issued in accordance with the Ministerial Decisions No. 3/82 and 4/94. The law has six sections, covering definition, handling; marketing and processing; violation and penalties and general provisions. The Executive Regulations deal with Marine Fishing Licences, Licence Fees, Protection and Development of Living Aquatic Resources, Regulation of Fishing, Preservation, Transport and Marketing of Living Aquatic Resources, General Provisions and Penalties.
Other relevant legislation include Quality Control Regulations of Omani Exported Fish, issued in accordance with Ministerial Decision No. 136/98. Also Ministerial Decision No. 121/98, concerns conditions and specifications of Industrial Fishing Vessels Equipped For Preservation and Handling of Fish Products, in addition to other Ministerial Decisions issued from time to time.
The Government of Oman, fully realizing that an effective fisheries development programme requires both a long-term commitment and substantial financing, has supported the construction of fisheries infrastructure required for the development of the industry.
During the past years, the government invested substantially in fisheries infrastructure and as a result ten fishing ports have already been constructed in different coastal regions. Also, in order to encourage the private sector to invest in provision of services and the necessary facilities for artisanal fisheries, some land plots within the constructed fishing ports have been allocated to and utilized by the private sector for the same purpose. Government and private sector investment has been directed towards the establishment of fishing harbours, marine workshops, cold stores, fish marketing centres, shelters, fisheries complexes, research centres, ice plants, fish processing and packaging plants, and marketing centres.
Also, the Fisheries Encouragement Fund, established in 1976 to upgrade the economic, social and technical standards of the traditional fishermen, and to realize optimal utilization of fisheries, has had a significant impact on modernization of the traditional inshore fleet, where several thousand fishing vessels needed upgrading.
At the same time, considering the importance of research in fisheries development, the government established the Fisheries Research Fund (FRF) in 1991, to provide finance for fisheries research projects. To date, about RO 3.0 million has been provided by FRF to finance 18 approved research projects.
Oman is considered 100% self-sufficient in fish and fish products, with a surplus of not less than 20% at its minimum level. The annual per caput consumption of fish in 1998 was almost 39 kg, which is very high compared to the world average. About one-third of fish production is exported, mainly to Gulf countries, Europe and Asia.
Fisheries product export for 1998 was estimated at 34 847 t, worth RO 24 869.
regard to imports, some companies, hotel and restaurants import fisheries
products of certain species, either because they are not available in
enough quantities (during closed seasons) or they are not available
in Omani waters and yet preferred by consumers. Imports in 1998 were
113 t, valued at RO 2.0 million.
Projections of fish production, consumption, export and import to 2020 (tonnes)
of the national fisheries administrative and research institutions.
College of Agriculture