BIG CATCH

Oman 2018 | AGRICULTURE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Dr. Khalid Mansoor Al-Zadjali, CEO of Oman Fisheries Company, on Oman's strength in the fishing and fisheries industry, increasing capacity, and supporting SMEs.

Dr. Khalid Mansoor Al-Zadjali
BIOGRAPHY
Dr. Khalid Mansoor Al-Zadjali has a doctorate degree in agriculture resources management from University College Dublin, Ireland, and has held various roles within the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF). From 2014-2017, he served as Director General of Fisheries Harbors within MAF before becoming CEO of Oman Fisheries Company. In total, he served the ministry for over 20 years. Al-Zadjali has significant experience in project planning, development, and management.

Oman's fisheries grow by 11% every year, faster than most markets. What role has Oman Fisheries Company had in achieving this growth?

Oman Fisheries is the largest fishery in the country and the GCC with a capital of approximately OMR12.5 million and turnover of OMR30 million (USD77 million). Being a regional mega processor, and having over 30 years of business expertise in seafood, Oman Fisheries is a name recognized worldwide and is the number-one choice of global fish marketers. Our distribution network spans over 50 countries worldwide, ranging from the US and the EU to island nations like Palau. Furthermore, with our presence through landing centers and network of fishermen along the entire coastline of Oman, we ensure that fish in Oman are harvested optimally, thereby driving the growth of this sector. Beside the active network, Oman Fisheries has five mega plants throughout Oman in Salalah, Shogra, Ashkara, Masirah, and Ghala. These mega plants are complemented by a fleet of trucks, real time management, and a premium warehouse of 9,000-ton capacity in the heart of Muscat. Oman Fisheries Company works closely with the government in terms of the development of the fisheries sector, including research and transformation in this sector to match global perspectives. With a strong team of 500 employees and a family of 7,000-plus fishermen under its belt, the future of Oman Fisheries as a company and the sector as a whole looks bright.

What is the current production capacity in the Sultanate, and are there any expansion plans in sight?

The current catch of Oman is around 270,000 tons. Out of the entire catch, around 20-25% is processed by Oman Fisheries and SMEs under its purview. Oman Fisheries currently processes more than 40,000 metric tons per annum and intends to double that figure in the coming years. With this goal in mind, we are upgrading our plant capacity by introducing new production lines. On the vertical scale of expansion, Oman Fisheries intends to target value-added products while on the horizontal scale it is targeting increased trading and logistics operations in coordination with its sister company, Al Ameen. We have already generated active demand in new regions in European countries, including Spain, Italy, and Germany, and we plan to expand our business in each of those markets. We also have plans to expand in various southeast Asian countries while expanding our base in China and Taiwan.

What is the current state of illegal fishing activity in Oman?

From Oman Fisheries' perspective, we strictly ensure that all fish caught from Oman are caught in accordance with the law. The total amount of fish caught and processed by Oman Fisheries is declared both before the regulatory authorities and also before the security markets. The government is working to prevent illegal activity through the enforcement of tighter laws, and illegal fishing activities are noticeably on the decline, due in part to government regulations. It is important to keep in mind that fishing is deeply embedded in Omani culture; Omanis have a long history with the sea, which has shown to make a difference in terms of reducing illegal fishing in relation to other countries that may not have the same extent of cultural awareness. This is also why fishing in Oman will never disappear.

How is Oman Fisheries Company looking to expand?

The goal is for Oman Fisheries Company to create a holding company with subsidiaries that are specialized in different activities and increase our productivity. We already have two subsidiary companies: Al Ameen and Sharjah FZE, both of which are 100% owned by Oman Fisheries Group. While Al Ameen is a wholesome service provider catering to warehousing, trading, and logistics services, Sharjah FZE caters to the trading activities in the GCC belt, outside Oman. Oman Fisheries is also contemplating the establishment of a separate company to take advantage of the opportunities in Duqm, the future hotspot of economic activity in Oman.