MoAF conservation measures help kingfish catch rise 75% in 2016

August 12, 2017

The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries’ (MoAF) 2014 decision to impose ban on kingfish catch for two months has resulted in a 75.5 per cent increase in kingfish catch in 2016 over the previous year.

The ministry has announced that the ban will come into effect from August 15 to October 15 to help spawning. The ministry said that “the production of kingfish in the sultanate during the year 2016 increased by 75.5 per cent compared to 2015, with an estimated production of 7,007 tonnes and estimated value of RO18.4mn”.

As kingfish is a highly migratory species, a regional strategy involving GCC was approved by the GCC Agricultural Cooperation Committee at its 23rd meeting held at the headquarters of the GCC Secretariat General in Riyadh in 2012, to protect the stock. As per its directive, it was agreed by the GCC to enforce the ban from August 15 to October 15 every year starting from 2015.

The ministry stated that the two-month ban aims to avoid depletion of such an important fish, which is high in demand in the local market. It also reduced pressure on the kingfish stock. Various studies in Oman and the GCC have shown that the stock of kingfish is under heavy pressure in the region, particularly in the central part of the Sea of Oman, where large quantities of immature and small-sized fish constituted the catch before the 2014 MoAF decision which put curbs on minimum size and nature of nets used apart from the two-month ban.

The decision puts curbs on fishing of kingfish that is less than 65cm in length and stipulates that the net fishing rope shouldn’t exceed 2,400m and the net opening should be 95cm and the thread no less than 1mm. The ban also includes the sale, purchase, transportation and export of kingfish during the said period. Individuals and companies have to register their catch at the directorates of fisheries at the end of the fishing season.

A Sultan Qaboos University study conducted before the ministry put in restrictions on catch size and fishing nets, revealed that the population of kingfish was under heavy fishing pressure, particularly in the central part of the Sea of Oman, where high proportions of immature and small individuals constituted the catch as a consequence of the fishing gear being adapted to capture them.