Interview: Nabil bin Salim Al Bimani

What are the main investment opportunities for the local fishing industry, and how do you assess its potential as a contributor to the economy?

NABIL BIN SALIM AL BIMANI: The local fishing industry is an important contributor to the economy and there is significant potential for this contribution to grow. The strategic focus for the 2023-26 period will be centred on three key pillars: improving infrastructure, expanding investment products and maximising returns.

The industry’s growth prospects are positive, and the opportunities for investment are therefore wide-ranging. Some key areas that stand to attract investors are infrastructure and supply chain development, along with improving industrial processes and local and international commercial activities – with a key focus on localising the supply chain and supporting small and medium-sized enterprises.

Investment opportunities are drawing the attention of domestic as well as regional and international investors. Value addition remains a vital component of the government’s strategy for the segment, with the objective of improving quality standards for products and services. A seafood canning plant is currently under construction in Duqm, in Al Wusta governorate, which is expected to be operational by late 2023. The OR28m ($72.8m) plant will have a production capacity of 100m cans per year. Through its group organisations, the International Sea Food Company and Oman Fisheries, FDO aims to increase export figures in the fisheries segment.

In what ways might further local and international partnerships help develop local capabilities and skills in the fisheries segment?

AL BIMANI: Strengthening partnerships is a key step to develop the business ecosystem around the fisheries industry. Locally, there is collaboration between FDO and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources (MAFWR) to identify activities that require more attention and geographic areas that have high growth potential in fisheries, such as Musandam. The local industry also aims to develop aquaculture capabilities for different types of fish and seafood such as sea bream, tuna and shrimp. Internationally, there are opportunities in reaching wild-catch fishing agreements with nearby countries and regions, such as Zanzibar and Mauritius.

There is also room for international companies to participate in the development of the local fishing industry. Partnerships in this context may happen through the MAFWR, acting as custodians, or directly with local industry players, with the aim to bring in the best international practices to the local sector.

Developing local capabilities and enhancing human capital is a priority as the country strives to expand practical experience and knowledge. Oman aims to achieve this through continuous hands-on training of the sector’s workforce to include global best practices and the broad implementation of advanced technology to enhance efficiency and productivity.

To what extent is sustainability a matter of concern as the local fisheries industry grows?

AL BIMANI: FDO was established as the national fisheries company to develop a sustainable aquaculture and fishing segment in Oman. It is intended to act as a catalyst to accelerate development in the local fishing industry, with an emphasis on local value addition. In this sense, environmental sustainability is paramount in the government’s plans to develop the local fishing industry. Preserving marine life and ecosystems is part of the sultanate’s commitment to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals. All sector stakeholders are committed to operating in an environmentally and socially responsible manner, which includes conducting studies to assess the impact of their investments and complying with local laws and international standards for fishing projects.