Which protocols is the company following in terms of its sustainable fishing practices?
Currently, FDO follows the Oman protocol, which is in line with the international protocol in terms of the Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY). In commercial fishing, we have a specific quota set by the government for fishing small pelagics. The MSY that we are allowed to develop is around 200,000 tons per annum, which we adhere to. We have not reached such yields yet, though we are developing our fleet accordingly. In terms of fishing in international waters for tuna, we are working on developing the Omani quota. We have already started the construction of two vessels for tuna that are due for delivery and operation before 2024.
How will the MoU signed for the shrimp farming project in Al Jazer strengthen the joint investment between Saudi Arabia and the Sultanate?
This comes under the continuous collaboration between Oman and Saudi Arabia which pursues mutual opportunities between the two countries. There is great potential and synergies between the two countries to explore different investment opportunities. We believe that mutual investments between the two countries and the potential growth within Saudi Arabia and within Oman in the next few years will flare out lots of opportunities between us, and for FDO, and Naqua to conduct good business that will shine back positively on both economies. The MoU was for the exploration of opportunities in one of our key upcoming projects in Al Jazer; though, our ambitions do not stop at one project. We are pursuing other different investment opportunities in Oman and Saudi Arabia.
What strategies are you employing to expand globally, and how is this affecting Oman's trade balance?
Currently, Oman's key focus area in the next few years is to diversify its portfolio with high value fish suited for high value markets. This is reflected in the projects that FDO is currently planning, both in aquaculture and in fishing activities beyond the special economic zone. For instance, we are currently planning to initiate several aquaculture projects for different types of fish to target niche markets in Europe and East Asia. We believe that stabilizing the trade balance in Oman is not only done through the increase in quantity but rather through the value of the fish itself.
How is FDO aligning itself with Vision 2040?
Vision 2040 puts emphasis on fisheries as one of the key drivers to diversify the economy away from oil and gas. The vision makes it very clear by stating that the objective is to “create a profitable world-class sector that is ecologically sustainable and a net contributor to Oman's economy." Therefore, our interpretation of a world-class sector is one where its products can reach the global market with global standards. The current status quo does not yet support this ambitious objective, which puts a responsibility on FDO to change the current norms in terms of harvesting and post-harvest activities. We are working together with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Water Resources (MoAFWR) to upgrade the current fishing methods, as well as attract the latest technologies in aquaculture. Accordingly, we are initiating several projects that will have a significant impact in terms of not only the quantity of high value fish we produce but also the quality of the catch. Another challenge FDO is facing is the current public perception about commercial fishing, where some believe it directly competes with artisanal fishermen affecting their catch yield. However, this is not true; regulations stipulated by MAFWR strictly prohibits any fishing activities within the fishing areas of artisanal fishing, and FDO's main focus will continue to be diversifying the economy and bringing in value to the country without competing with the local fishermen. In fact, our mission is to partner with all stakeholders in the fisheries sector via projects that will result in a positive impact for them and the country overall.