A pond-based shrimp culture has recently been developed in Oman. (Photo: RAIS, raisaquaculture.net)
Aquaculture on the rise
Friday, March 30, 2012, 00:40 (GMT + 9)
Oman’s government has launched various measures to boost aquaculture, according to a top official.
“We are aiming to produce 2,000 tonnes of shrimps valued at around OMR 4 million (USD 10.4 million) and 500 tonnes of fish with an estimated market value at OMR 2 million (USD 5.2 million) by 2015,” said Dr Fahad S Ibrahim, director of the Aquaculture Centre, Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries Wealth.
The government anticipates the overall sector to contribute OMR 2 billion (USD 5.2 billion) to the GDP and provide work to 11,000 people by 2030-2040.
In 2010, the country’s total aquaculture output was 127 tonnes. In 2011, the country produced nearly 251 tonnes, mainly of Indian white shrimp and tilapia, Times of Oman reports.
The growth of aquaculture will help increase fish consumption and help establish food security, Fahad said.
“A regulatory framework is under implementation and should be effective in the coming weeks. Already a large number of private investors are interested in developing aquaculture projects for shrimp, fish and abalone. Also a large number of small farmers are interested in developing integrated aquaculture to produce freshwater species in agricultural farm,” he said.
The government’s incentives for farmers and investors include a supply of sites, soft loans, no tax to import equipment and farm inputs and no income tax during five years, he commented. Suitable sites have been identified and an atlas has been printed to help investors.
Fahad noted that aquaculture development will reduce pressure on high-value commercial species and could be used to supplement waning populations of important species via enhancement programmes.
Oman’s aquaculture has been dominated by sea cage farming of gilt-head sea bream; recently a pond-based shrimp culture was developed.
Currently, the largest fish farming company in Oman is the Asmak, which owns sea cages near Quriyat. Shrimp farming is undertaken by the private company Bentoot Sea Food Products, which started production in 2007. The farm is operated as a pilot project.
“Some of the best aquaculture practices that can be done are cultivating shrimp in semi-intensive earth ponds, marine fish in onshore tanks, marine fish in floating cages, abalone farms in tanks, satellite projects of small farms associated to industrial farms for shrimp and fish production, integrated freshwater farms (fish + crops), production of juveniles and restocking programme for fisheries management and ornamental fish production,” Fahad added.
Last December, he said that his ministry’s efforts to expand aquaculture included specifying areas reaching up to 3,000 ha for a project, studying the effects on fish prices and preparing a study on aquaculture production in cooperation with SQU and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), charting a national strategy and laying down quality control rules with recommendations from FAO specialists, Muscat Daily reports.
Oman has about 15,000 ha available for aquaculture.
By Natalia Real