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World Bank Helping Oman Fisheries Sector Overhaul

25 August 2015

OMAN - With help from the World Bank, Oman is developing a plan to better manage its fisheries.

This is a step towards improving livelihoods and making the sector ecologically sustainable, reports MuscatDaily.

The government is committed to transforming the management of its fisheries – one of its lagging, traditional sectors. The sector is recognised as important to the future of Oman, as well-managed fisheries can be a bountiful and renewable resource and contribute to food security.

Today, in small villages, most family members work as or with artisanal fishermen. But the ocean’s health is fragile, the fish are migratory, and stocks have depleted over time. As a starting point, the Omani government has asked the World Bank to help devise a plan to boost sustainable livelihoods and prosperity of fishing communities.

“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, World Bank.

The World Bank has helped lay the groundwork, offering technical expertise, bringing international good practices and engaging stakeholders on building a shared vision to renew fisheries.

During a series of workshops in 2014, everyone from ministers to fishermen to tribal elders with technical trainers conducted detailed analyses of the state of Oman’s fisheries. They mapped out a future vision, as well as a means for its implementation.

“It was the first time in Oman that various stakeholders including fishermen from the seven coastal governorates were involved in decision-making,” said Jamal al Kibbi, World Bank programme manager for GCC countries. It was also a first for the World Bank, which is increasing its focus on renewable blue resources – fisheries, ocean resources and aquaculture.

“The Oman Reimbursable Advisory Service (RAS) is a first in the fishery sector,” said Mr Setlur, who is also the bank's team leader for the fishery engagement in Oman.

“The bank has been asked to link the government’s investment programme in the fisheries sector to their vision of private sector led growth, while maintaining a focus on sustainable management of the natural resource,” she said. RAS projects offer customised local solutions through specific, technical assistance.

“We wanted to understand the indigenous knowledge, what’s working and what’s not. 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,” said Michael Arbuckle, a member of the World Bank team.

This has resulted in a vision for fisheries and aquaculture to 2040: To achieve a profitable world-class fisheries sector that is ecologically sustainable and a net contributor to the economy of Oman. And the way Oman hopes to get there includes a measure of consensus new to its culture, according to Kibbi. “Oman has been highly appreciative of our advice and technical analysis,” he said.

“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,” he added.

The World Bank is also helping prepare a pilot investment project in abalone and cuttlefish following international best practice. Support for abalone stock enhancement is planned through scaling up hatchery activities, and improving environmental compliance of these facilities.

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