The Sultanate has implemented stringent measures in tackling threats against safety of seafood and is self-sufficient in the well-being of marine wealth, according to an official at the Directorate of Fisheries. "We have effective system, processes, regulations and action plans besides comprehensive strategy for the safety of seafood taking into consideration that they are meant for public consumption,” Redha Said Khalfan al Faraj, Directorate-General of Fisheries Research, Fisheries Quality Control Centre, and Head of Department of Seafood Safety Implementation System, told the Observer.
He said these stern actions were necessitated after it was found that a major chunk of fisheries wealth had been killed in the Oman seas and a comprehensive action was warranted. “We came up with these actions as there were cases of mass mortality in the seas and protecting the sea wealth and safeguarding the seafoodwas called for”.
According to a study conducted by the ministry some time ago, massive fish mortality was caused in the Musandam, Al Batinah, Muscat, Al Sharqiyah, Al Wusta and Dhofar regions against the 7,000 to 8,000 tonnes of fish killed in 1976.
In 2000 alone, massive fish mortality was detected along Azaiba shores and the same year also witnessed another major fish kill in Barka.
Preliminary reports suggested that the fish mortalities were due to toxins associated with harmful algal blooms (HABs).
This had raised local concerns regarding the safe consumption of seafood products. In effect, this warranted certain steps to be implemented to protect the seafood wealth to strike a perfect environmental balance.
With nearly 1,700 km of coastline and 150 species of fish and crustaceans, Oman’s fish reserves are among the largest in the world. The annual catch is the biggest in the Arabian Gulf.
With this prominence in the spotlight, this sector has been strengthened with technology, with improved harbours and facilities, marine workshops and aquaculture projects that add to the marine wealth. Oman’s marine exports include sardines, tuna, grouper, kingfish, hammour, shrimp, lobsters and abalone.