Plans for the development of a Special Economic Zone at Duqm envisage the establishment of a Fisheries Zone integrated with a major fish harbor and a host of other fishery-related industrial and service components, according to officials associated with the ambitious initiative.
A draft plan drawn up by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, which is working alongside the Special Economic Zone Authority of Duqm in the master planning of the zone, envisions a large-scale hub complete with fish processing plants, modern handling and cold storage facilities, specialist landing areas for oceanic fishing vessels, fish market, and boat repair workshops, among other facilities.
In Phase 2 of the zone's development, aquaculture-related projects are proposed to be integrated into the scheme, alongside plans for fishmeal and oil plants, electronic trading platforms, and an enhanced cluster of fish processing units. In effect, the Fishery Zone has been conceived as a national hub for the capture, processing, farming and distribution of fish.
When fully operational, the Duqm fishery hub — set on a 4 sq kilometer zone located in the north of the SEZ — is expected to be one of the largest of its kind in the Gulf. Besides adding value to the country's prolific fishery resources, the venture will also contribute significantly to employment generation and non-oil export revenue growth. Importantly, it will also spur fishery related investments along the adjoining Sharqiyah and Dhofar coasts, it is pointed out.
As a primarily export-oriented hub, provision will be made within the Fisheries Zone for investments in a cluster of fish processing plants designed, built and operated to internationally-accepted quality control and hygiene standards. Planners envisage a mix of primary processing plants devoted to the handling, cutting and filleting of fresh fish destined for wholesale and retail markets all over the world, as well as secondary businesses that will process fish into products, such as cakes, fingers, canned fish, and so on. Part of the vision behind the development of the fishery hub is to attract international fishing vessels to Duqm.
According to studies conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, fishing companies operating in the North Indian Ocean area could be attracted to come to Duqm if wharfage and operating costs are competitive, and facilities up-to-date.
Importantly, the Fisheries Zone will be anchored by a major fish harbor project currently out to tender.
Oman Daily Observer