Oman’s sovereign wealth fund carrying out national directive to level up nation’s seafood industry

A sea cage being hauled into place in Oman.

Oman has marshalled both government and private resources into an ambitious overhaul of its fisheries and aquaculture sectors, embarking on a mission to grow itself into a global seafood power.

Led by Fisheries Development Oman (FDO), which was founded in 2019 as a joint commitment between Oman’s Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Oman Investment Authority, the effort is a comprehensive reimagining of the country’s approach to aquaculture, commercial fishing, processing, infrastructure, and services. The Oman Investment Authority, the sultanate’s sovereign wealth fund, has an estimated USD 41.5 billion (EUR 37.9 billion) under management and the requirement it invest 60 percent of its funds in domestic projects. As part of a 20-year development plan formally launched in 2021, Oman has tasked the FDO with helping it achieve the three primary objectives of the so-called “Oman Vision 2040” – attaining 6 percent of gross domestic product achieved through means other than oil and gas, upping the percentage of Omani citizens working in the private sector to 42 percent, and increasing foreign investment to 10 percent of GDP.

“FDO seeks to explore and invest in local and international opportunities and demonstrate the sector’s profitability and sustainability at a global scale, utilizing the sultanate’s competitiveness in global markets,” FDO said in a press release. “Fisheries Development Oman’s stated vision is to be a world-class leader for growth, while driving a sustainable fisheries future. Currently, FDO has identified several investment opportunities for the expansion of its commercial fishing fleet. They are also cultivating new Oman marine life species for commercial aquaculture, and developing value-adding products for the local, regional, and global fishing industry.”

More than a dozen aquaculture projects have been approved for development, Oman Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources Director of Aquaculture Development Issa bin Mohammed al Farsi told the Muscat Daily in April 2023. These include a OMR 71 million (USD 185 million, EUR 168 million) 20,000-metric-ton land-based Atlantic salmon farm in Quriyat; a 400-MT, OMR 1.8 million (USD 4.7 million, EUR 4.3 million) tuna-ranching project in Al Hajir with a plan to ramp up to 2,000 MT at a OMR 4.8 million (USD 12.5 million, EUR 11.4 million) cost; a 1,000-MT red sea bream farm in Quriyat valued at OMR 1.6 million (USD 4.1 million, EUR 3.8 million); a 10,000-MT, OMR 30 million (USD 78 million, EUR 71.1 million) sea bass and sea bream farm in Seeb Wilayat; a OMR 32 million (USD 83.1 million, EUR 75.8 million) sea bream farm in Sur Wilayat; and a OMR 1.9 million (USD 4.9 million, EUR 4.5 million) abalone farm in Mirbat Wilayat. Many of the projects will be operated by FDO subsidiary Blue Waters LLC, which was founded in 2016 and which currently has license to produce up to 5,000 MT of sea bream annually, with a plan to add a hatchery soon.

“The ministry aims to diversify fish farming projects in the governorates by establishing farming projects using floating cages and indoor fish farming in Musandam, South Batinah, and Muscat, and fish farming projects in ponds in South Sharqiyah, Al Wusta, and Dhofar,” al Farsi said.

FDO is also

Photo courtesy of Fisheries Development Oman

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