With a GDP of US$ 81.79 billion, and a population of 3.93 million people, Oman is one of the largest producers and consumers of fish in the GCC. With a high unemployment rate, the government has also chosen this sector as a key pillar for economic diversification to move away from over-dependence on earnings from hydrocarbons exports, encouraging artisanal fishermen participation to boost employment. The market for fisheries and aquaculture in Oman was worth US$ XX million as of 2015, and is expected to grow at CAGR X% per annum over 2016-2022.
Oman’s per capita consumption of fish is the highest in the GCC after UAE, at 27 kg per capita per annum. X% of this is imported, as local demand outstrips local supply for many varieties of fish. Oman, under its national food security program plans to double production from about 200,000 tons in 2014 to 480,000 tons in 2020.
An increase in population, affluence, preference for protein rich food, impetus by the government to increase self-sufficiency in terms of food, and the country has had a historically strong research wing for fisheries, active since 1997. These approaches include experimentation with different varieties of fish including oysters, shrimps and shellfish, using cages. Of the five currently ongoing pilot programs, the one in Musandam Governorate employs a marine cage technology after using GIS for site selection. Additionally, feed research and culturing tilapia are vital research projects for the country. Despite these, aquaculture production has contributed very insignificantly to the total output of fish in Oman. Given the problems of overfishing in common areas, a lack of regulation, consolidation and knowledge sharing in the informal sector leading to fishing of endangered species in conjunction with high demand has made the importance of aquaculture conspicuous. Oman’s fisheries, aquaculture and fish processing sector is set only to expand over the coming years.
Two types of aquaculture farming systems are prevalent in Oman – shrimp farming in Al-Wusta Governorate in Wilyat Mahout producing between 250 to 350 tons of shrimp annually, and integrated farming systems, wherein species like Tilapia are cultured in small farms which are unfit for typical agricultural activities. Types of species which can be grown include those endemic to the Omani waters, as well as exotic species. Some known fish are sea cucumbers, freshwater carp, seabass, and other high value fish. The government has instated Regional Aquaculture Information System (RAIS) which partakes in capacity building, research and evaluating projects submitted by private players.
Companies for fish processing services and fish rearing management can conduct business in Oman under PPPs. The process of bidding for tenders is highly competitive in Oman, attracting large multinational companies who partner with local companies to bid. Tendering in Oman has the downside of a lower number of prerequisites, attracting a high number of bids, enabling companies with poor standards bidding for the tender to drag down prices for bids. Businesses can integrate themselves as joint stock companies, LLCs, general or limited partnerships, foreign branch, joint venture or sole proprietorship in Oman.
Oman’s largest fish importers are the UAE and Saudi Arabia, constituting 50% and 16% of total export by Oman. Most important names include Oman Fisheries Company, National Prawn Company, Quriyat Aquaculture Company, Hesy, and others.
KEY DELIVERABLES IN THE STUDY