Mirbat – An abalone fishing project, the first of its kind in Oman, with a production capacity of 600 tons per year, was inaugurated on Thursday by His Highness Sayyid Marwan bin Turki al Said, Governor of Dhofar, in Mirbat, Dhofar.
A joint venture of Muscat Overseas Group and Abagold, a major South African abalone farming company, the project was set up at a cost of RO10 million and is managed by the purpose-built Oman Aquaculture Company. .
The project is part of the plans of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources to encourage the private sector to diversify investments in the field of food security in general and fisheries projects in particular.
HE Dr Saud bin Hamoud al Habsi, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources, said the project is among the ventures that are realizing the ministry’s vision for fish farming in Oman. “It also serves the local community and provides jobs for young Omanis,” he added.
The project covers an area of 37,240 m², with construction spread over 8,900 m² including facilities and services that will contribute to the production of abalone at par with international standards.
An Abagold official earlier told the Muscat Daily that the project will help reseed and replenish the ocean with abalone “under a well-structured joint partnership with the Ministry of Oman as well as local fishermen. , whose livelihoods have been destroyed by the depletion of natural abalone resources”. . We also hope to reintroduce abalone to the region for local consumption and at the same time we will create many jobs in the Mirbat region”.
Abalone stock has declined over the years in Omani waters, with annual catches hovering around 50-55 tonnes. It peaked at 149 tonnes in 2011, when the abalone fishery reopened after a three-year moratorium on harvesting, selling and exporting.
With catches dwindling, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources imposes abalone fishing bans from time to time, with the latest being imposed for two years – 2020 and 2021.
In recent years, the fishing season has varied from year to year, ranging from 10 to 25 days in December.