During a series of workshops in 2014, everyone from ministers to fishers to tribal elders huddled with technical trainers who conducted detailed analyses on the state of Oman’s fisheries. Together, they mapped out a vision for the future, as well as a means for its implementation. “It was the first time in Oman that various stakeholders including fishers from the seven coastal governorates were involved in decision-making,” said Jamal Al-Kibbi, World Bank program manager for Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.
It was also a first for the World Bank, which is increasing its focus on renewable blue resources—fisheries, ocean resources and aquaculture. “The Oman Reimbursable Advisory Service (RAS) is a first in the fishery sector,” said Setlur, who is also the Bank team leader for the fishery engagement in Oman. “The Bank has been asked to link the government’s investment program in the fisheries sector to their vision of private sector led growth, while maintaining a focus on sustainable management of the natural resource,” she said. RAS projects offer customized local solutions through specific, technical assistance.
“We wanted to understand the indigenous knowledge, what’s working and what’s not working. They want to see development, and we are working with them to find a way to harvest more high-value fish in the most economical way,” said Michael Arbuckle, a member of the World Bank team.
This two-year effort culminated in a Government of Oman vision for fisheries and aquaculture to 2040: To achieve a profitable world-class fisheries sector that is ecologically sustainable and a net contributor to the economy of Oman.
And the way Oman hopes to get there includes a measure of consensus new to its culture, according to Al-Kibbi. “Oman has been highly appreciative of our advice and technical analysis,” he said. “But I think they are most appreciative of our convening power to put together top-level policy makers and all the stakeholders and direct discussion in a coherent fashion, consistent with their needs.”
The World Bank is also helping to prepare a pilot investment project in Abalone and Cuttlefish following international best practice. Support for abalone stock enhancement is planned through scaling up hatchery activities, and improving the environmental compliance of these facilities. The management of these valuable fish stocks will be increasingly turned over to the fisher communities, supported by scientific and advisory government services.
The Bank hopes to support organizational management, business development and management training, and fisheries management planning for new institutions built around fishers and other key players. The vision is an ambitious plan that is designed to reinforce sector governance by strengthening monitoring and data collection; quality control; and branding and marketing. New fishery management would help the authorities be more responsive to the actual needs of fishing communities, and would help mobilize private investments into the sector.
The goal is to bring fisheries back as an economic resource -- both rooted in tradition and utilizing the newest advances to cultivate high-value fish.