The Omani government requested the World Bank’s assistance in drafting a strategic plan to overhaul its fish and seafood production, including improving the livelihoods of fishing communities in the country, through the Bank’s Reimbursable Advisory Service – marking the first time the Bank’s service has consulted on fisheries. Oman has previously announced it plans to spend US$1.3bn on fisheries projects by 2020.
“The government wants to improve every element of the value chain, from fish harvesting, to packaging and logistics, to marketing,” said Banu Setlur, senior environmental specialist at the World Bank.
“The Bank has been asked to link the government’s investment program in the fisheries sector to their vision of private sector led growth, while maintaining a focus on sustainable management of the natural resource,” she added.
As a result of the project, Oman now has a clear vision for its fisheries and aquaculture sector to 2040: “To achieve a profitable world-class fisheries sector that is ecologically sustainable and a net contributor to the economy of Oman.”
The Bank is also preparing a report on Oman’s fisheries, including recommendations on how to develop the industry sustainably, which should be published in the near future. It is also working with the Omani government on a pilot project to produce abalone and cuttlefish.
“Oman has been highly appreciative of our advice and technical analysis. But I think they are most appreciative of our convening power to put together top-level policy makers and all the stakeholders and direct discussion in a coherent fashion, consistent with their needs,” said Jamal Al-Kibbi, programme manager for the GCC at the World Bank.
Meeting the big fish
To produce its analysis, the World Bank brought together government ministers, industry professionals, tribal elders, and fishers from across Oman in a consultation exercise.
“It was the first time in Oman that various stakeholders including fishers from the seven coastal governorates were involved in decision-making,” said Al-Kibbi.
Michael Arbuckle, senior fisheries specialist at the World Bank, said: “We wanted to understand the indigenous knowledge, what’s working and what’s not working. They want to see development, and we are working with them to find a way to harvest more high-value fish in the most economical way.”
Last year Oman approved new fisheries and aquaculture projects worth hundreds of millions of dollars, including a US$130m shrimp farm. The country aims to more than double its fishing sector to US$1.9bn by 2020.