WHERE'S THE FISH?

Oman 2015 | AGRICULTURE & FISHERIES | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Mohammed Ameen, Managing Director of Sea Pride, on the potential areas for export growth in the fishing industry.

Mohammed Ameen
BIOGRAPHY
Mohammed Ameen, Investor and General Manager of Sea Pride LLC is a well-known pioneer in Oman’s fisheries industry, and has over 25 years of experience in the sector. He has introduced international standards and production lines in his new factory with the objective of continuing to improve the quality of Sea Pride’s products. He also contributes his knowledge and experience to a number of government committees on the development of the fishing industry.

How was 2013 for Sea Pride's operations?

We established a new factory in Sur last year that allowed us to capitalize on the fisheries sector. In 2013, our factories produced almost 10,000 tons of seafood. Our 14% increase was mostly in species with an existing market demand. We keep in close contact with our customers, which helps us to establish new business. For Sea Pride, last year's volume was especially good because some of the previous years were not as productive.

What factors make this company one of the main players in this sector?

Seafood has always been about quality and product availability. Our smaller operations in the past allowed us to fully commit to our customers. Throughout the years, we have developed a high-quality product. Sea Pride also specializes in standardizing products, and we invest heavily in product development. We are introducing a number of new products from our new factory.

You have a new 5,000-sqm facility in Sur. What is the importance of technology at your processing plant?

The new factory is one of the most state-of-the-art factories in Oman, as well as the largest. It is outfitted with modern equipment and cutting-edge technology. Our main objective is to introduce our products to new markets, such as the US, Europe, and Russia. A large quantity of our sales are also made to local markets. Each market has different demands. In the US, they permit carbon monoxide treated fish, which are not acceptable in Europe. Having achieved our set targets, we are now developing new products. Within two years, we will be at full production at the new plant. We do not expect much competition in this sector, as we operate the only industrial seafood company of its type in Oman.

Along with Ithraa, you have participated in important international fisheries exhibitions. Can you share your strategy to promote your company outside the Sultanate?

We used to operate a number of joint partnerships with companies outside of the Sultanate, such as Fresh Fish in Europe. We work with our international customers to ship whatever quantities we get. In the local market, we have our own distribution channels. We also distribute frozen fish to a number of markets. Oman is changing, and attitudes are changing as well. People used to purchase fish at the market, but now they expect a prepared product in their local supermarket. Health and sanitation concerns also drive people to buy packaged fish, rather than from a traditional market. We make sure customers know that our product is higher in quality, and safer. In the past, the bulk of our sales were to Europe, but now China has become Sea Pride's largest market. There is a huge demand for high-quality seafood in China.

What are you doing to be recognized as an environmentally friendly company?

Oman has a long history of sustainable fishing practices. While we have the necessary certifications, Omani fishing culture is naturally sustainable. We no longer engage in trawling. The Omani fishing industry is concerned about the misuse of natural resources. We also promote sustainability in our processing. The fish are handled with care from the time they are landed on the ship, right up to the factory. We also do not throw out any waste products; instead we produce fish feed from the waste. Our factory is in fact a zero-waste operation.

How does your proximity to Muscat International Airport and the main seaports benefit your activities?

The development of Muscat airport is something we have been pushing for. The airport lets us deliver a much fresher product, which is logistically challenging, as the cargo has to be transported in under five days. In the airport, the fish is out of our hands, and there is a risk of exposure. Once the new cargo handling facility is completed, we will have many new opportunities for export. This will open up opportunities.