Simak opens USD 67 million canning center, furthering Oman’s seafood push

Simak CEO Zakariya Alhasni
Simak CEO Zakariya Alhasni | Photo by Cliff White/SeafoodSource
6 Min

Omani seafood canning business Simak’s new OMR 26 million (USD 67.5 million, EUR 62.8 million) cannery has become the crown jewel of Oman’s development of the port of Dukm into a hub of the country’s seafood industry.

Simak, also known as the International Sea Food Company, was established in 2019 as part of a governmental effort to grow Oman into a global seafood power. The effort, led by Fisheries Development Oman (FDO) – a joint commitment between Oman’s Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Oman Investment Authority – is part of a comprehensive reimagining of the country’s approach to aquaculture, commercial fishing, processing, infrastructure, and services.

The Simak plant’s opening was originally scheduled for Q4 2023, but it was completed in March 2024 and is now capable of processing 27,000 metric tons (MT) of seafood annually, split evenly between sardines and tuna. It also produces fish oil and animal feed from the byproducts generated through its canning process.

Simak CEO Zakariya Al Hasni said the 85,000-square-meter facility will be able to produce more than 1 million cans annually, sold both under the Simak brand and for white-label contracts, making it the largest such plant in the Gulf Cooperation Council region, which includes six Middle Eastern states.

FDO has invested in Dukm fisheries port, and the Omani government has designated the whole area to fishing industry operations. It is now growing the infrastructure along with foreign investments, to develop the area,” Al Hasni told SeafoodSource at the 2024 Seafood Expo Global.

Al Hasni said the government is supporting the planned construction of a plant to make the cans required by Simak, with the facility expected to be constructed and operational in the next five years.

“We are partnering local [small- and medium-sized enterprises] for logistical support, packaging, ingredients, marketing, and other needs, so every aspect of the supply chain is adding value to the country,” he said. “And, we are collaborating with local artisanal fishermen to educate them on getting their fish to a condition where they can be used not only by the International Seafood Company, which is our brand, but so they can be sold globally.”

The development of the seafood industry in Dukm, which is located in the central part of the country’s coastline bordering the Indian Ocean, has helped to balance the country’s economy geographically away from the country’s economic and political capital of Muscat. Dukm has been developed quickly and now features extensive port facilities, including dry docks and a large oil refinery, as well as a special harbor zone for fishing vessels. The government is also helping to build up Sohar and Salalah as fisheries ports as well, according to Al Hasni.

“The infrastructure is there for the industry to thrive,” he said.

Al Hasni said he’s confident Oman will reach its goal of having 6 percent of its gross domestic product come from non-energy sources, with the seafood industry playing a significant role in that push. He said the country is capable of producing over 700,000 MT of seafood per year.

“I think we can reach even more than that, to be honest. There is a huge demand for the fish products, especially when it comes to value-added products,” Al Hasni said. “I would say it’s just a matter of getting the resources and, for Simak, getting the certifications the market demands, such as Friend of the Sea, Dolphin-Safe, HACCP, ISO, IFC, and BRC; we have applied for them, and we are going to get them. We will also be one of the first companies in Oman to get MarinTrust certification for our fish oil.”

Al Hasni said he’s not worried about the war in Yemen interfering with Oman’s economic development.

“Oman is a well-stabilized country when it comes to political issues. We don't have any problems, and I don't think we're going to have any problems with any of the countries within the region or around the globe,” he said.

Oman Pelagic CEO Dawood Al Wahaibi, who is also an FDO board member, said he’s proud of the progress that has been made in developing the country’s seafood industry.

“The government has made the decision to invest in meaningful projects and assets in order to have a catalyst for diversification of the economy and to provide more jobs, especially for those who are living by the shore,” he told SeafoodSource. “Oman’s coastline is 3,000 kilometers long. It’s satisfying to see we are advancing on so many fronts in returning to the country’s roots as a fishing nation.”

Oman Pelagic is supplying Simak with tuna through the Acila, an 84-meter newbuild trawler launched in August 2023. A second newbuild trawler that will undergo sea trials in May is scheduled for delivery soon after. Al Wahaibi said he wants to continue to expand the company’s presence in the Indian Ocean tuna fishery.

“Two [vessels] are a good to start to the operation, but in order to capitalize on the situation in the Indian Ocean, I think there is a reasonable reason for expanding," he said. "Building more vessels will take a long time, so maybe we will go for a joint venture or see what's available on the market.”

The completion of the Simak cannery is the first step of the second phase of the larger plan to transform Oman’s seafood industry, according to Al Wahaibi.

“Phase 1 was all the planning, all of the upstream, creating the culture, getting the technology in place, and that is completed or nearly completed,” he said. “Now, we go into the further offering of doing outreach to customers and gathering information on potential customers abroad.”

He said he expects FDO to make an announcement containing details of its downstream approach in early summer.

While the Simak plant opening has been a success story thus far, Al Wahaibi acknowledged Oman’s development of its aquaculture sector has ...

SeafoodSource Premium

Become a Premium member to unlock the rest of this article.

Continue reading ›

Already a member? Log in ›


Want seafood news sent to your inbox?

You may unsubscribe from our mailing list at any time. Diversified Communications | 121 Free Street, Portland, ME 04101 | +1 207-842-5500
Editor's Choice