Oman information

General information about Oman  Introduction Oman’s economy is expected to contract in 2020 due to the oil price slide and the COVID-19 public health response. An increase in gas output and infrastructure spending plans will help growth recover over 2021-22. Fiscal and external deficits will remain under strain due to low oil and gas prices. Rigid recurrent spending will keep public debt high, estimated to exceed 70% of GDP in 2020 and beyond. Real GDP growth is estimated to have decelerated to 0.5%  in 2019, down from a recovery of 1.8% in 2018. This is largely driven by 1% (y/y) decline in oil production, capped by the since-lapsed OPEC+ production deal. The non-oil economy is estimated to have been subdued due to the slowdown in industrial activities and services sector. Inflationary pressures are estimated to remain muted at 0.1% in 2019, reflecting weak domestic demand and tame food and housing prices. Low oil prices and the spread of COVID-19 are the key challenges that Oman will need to navigate in the short-run. With oil prices in the mid-$30s in 2020 and constrained oil demand, growth is expected to contract by 3.5%. Forty five percent of Omani exports (or 21.7% of GDP), mostly oil, go to China, the highest Chinese exposure among GCC. Low oil prices will create challenges to the implementation of supportive public spending for the country with already high deficits, more limited buffers and an elevated debt level. As such, the fiscal deficit is expected to markedly widen to over 17% of GDP in 2020, before starting to slightly narrow down over 2021-2022, assuming more favorable oil prices. ogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); Key downside risks are reflected in further erosion of the fiscal balance, through far lower oil prices, exposure to China, and economic disruption to tourism due to COVID-19. Mitigation would be demonstrated by implementation of substantial fiscal measures to curtail the government deficits, a new push on privatization, and prioritizing capital projects. With its accumulated external debt, Oman will need a rapid normalization of emerging market funding conditions to finance the continued deterioration of the country’s fiscal and external accounts. Significant new gas production in 2021 along with diversifying the economy in sectors such as manufacturing, tourism, fishing and aquaculture will support the growth momentum and lessen the risks. At the same time, enabling Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) to maintain or increase its oil and gas production has sizable investment needs. (The World Bank, 2020). Aquaculture is one of the fastest growing food production systems in the world. It currently contributes 50 per cent of global fish production. This proportion will increase to 62 per cent by 2030, according to reports issued by the World Bank. The aquaculture sector in Oman is on the cusp of boom, with major fish farms either in the planning or advanced stage of development, which is in line to increase revenues from the sector to RO222mn by 2023. The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries said that the sultanate’s production of aquaculture in 2019 had amounted to 1,054 tonnes, an increase of 133 per cent compared to 2018, with a total value of RO2mn. The ministry, according to the outputs of the fish resources laboratories ‘Tanfidh’, seeks to increase the contribution of the aquaculture sector to RO222mn by 2023, through several aquaculture projects, the most important of which are shrimp and abalone, seabream, cobia and Jack fish, in addition to algae. The production of Indian white shrimp reached 352 tonnes in 2013. But the production fluctuated for years to decrease to 86 tonnes in 2016. In June 2018, the first commercial production of European Seabream started in a fish farm in the Wilayat of Quriyat that uses floating cages. Its production was 350 tonnes by the end of 2018. By the end of 2019, the production increased to 862 tonnes. On the other hand, integrated aquaculture witnessed a growth in the production of tilapia as production increased from 20 tonnes in 2015 to 192 tonnes in 2019. The ministry hopes that the aquaculture sector will be one of the main pillars in developing and improving the utilization of fish resources in the sultanate and that this sector will be able to compete and meet the consumers’ needs for high-quality marine products in a manner compatible with the environment (Muscat Daily, 2020). In this book at first, I have introduced general vision about aquaculture opportunities and potential of Sultanate of Oman and history of starting aquaculture projects in Oman then I have tried classified different information and activities about aquaculture industry, a different system of aquaculture such as aquaponic, integrated farming, cage culture in Oman. Also, I have illustrated commercial species of aquatic organisms in government and private sectors, in addition, educational and research centers have been introduced in the end of this book I have brought all held events and all Aquaculturist in Oman. I hope this book will be useful for those interested in aquaculture activities and domestic and foreign investors, students and researchers in the agricultural and aquaculture industry.  Oman location The Sultanate of Oman is found in the South-Eastern corner of the Arabian Peninsula and is located between latitudes 16°40΄ and 26°20΄ North and longitudes 51°50΄ and 59°40΄ East. Considered as the third largest country in the Arabian Peninsula, it has a total land area of 309,500 sq km. It covers vast gravel desert plains and mountain ranges and a long coastline of 3,165 km. Bordering on its north side is the Strait of Hormuz and the United Arab Emirates, on the northwest by Saudi Arabia while at the southwest by the Republic of Yemen. Three seas surround the country: the Arabian Gulf, the Sea of Oman, and the Arabian Sea .The current population is 4.8 million people. The greater part of the country has a dry climate except for the south which is subtropical. Dhofar Region has most of the moisture through seasonal rainfall, the south-west monsoon brings in fog or rain in the area. Thus, the larger part of the country’s biodiversity is being supported in this region. Oman is part of the Gulf Regions’ varied landscapes and seascapes. The country has the typical salt flats or salt plains (sabkha), lagoons or saline creeks (khwars), oases and stretches of sand and gravel plains, which are dominated by mountain regions. The Hajar mountain ranges run from Musandam through most of northern Oman along the Sea of Oman. These mountains vary in width from 30 to 70 km and are mostly steep and barren formations of igneous and sedimentary rocks. They rise to almost 3,000 masl at Jabel Shams, the highest point in the country. The terrain is crossed by riverbeds or dry river valleys (wadis) which are formed by surging water during the rainy season but most remain dry until the next flooding. Off the coasts are several islands and islets, the largest of which is Masirah Island on the east. A long stretch of desert is a typical feature of Oman. The almost endless Rub’ Al Khali (Empty Quarter) covers the southwest of the country which traverses the neighboring Saudi Arabia and the UAE while a vast Wahiba Sands is nestled in the northeast. In great contrast is the greener southern Dhofar region, which is humid-tropical in appearance since it receives relatively high rainfall than the rest of the country. Climate: Oman is situated along the edges of moisture-rich air masses: one coming from the Mediterranean and the other from the Indian Ocean. Along the coasts is hot and humid while in the interior is hotter but drier. Hot summer months are from May to September and the cool winter months start in November until March. In Muscat, the daily average maximum temperature is 41 ºC in late June and July but the minimum at around 16.5 ºC in the colder months (Hawley, 2005). Rainfall appears irregular with December and January are months of heaviest rainfall. Mean annual rainfall is less than 50 mm in the interior regions and around 100 mm in coastal areas. Mean monthly relative humidity is highest in coastal areas ranging from 50-90%. Much drier air is felt in the interior areas at 1-2%. Wind is under the influence of the equatorial convergence zone. In summer, this system reaches southern Oman and brings monsoon conditions to the Dhofar mountains. In winter, the system moves to south of the equator. Wind direction is generally moving from the north while in summer it is from the south. Cyclones occasionally occur in the country creating disastrous flash floods. The Super-Cyclone Gonu, which entered the Sea of Oman from 5-7 June 2007, was Oman’s worst natural disaster and the largest Cyclone on record to strike the Arabian Peninsula. Highest winds were over 260 km/h in the Arabian Sea and the storm severely damaged coastal areas including 1,000s of sq m of reef damaged near Muscat. Biodiversity Distinguished as a unique biogeographic region, northern Oman’s biodiversity has strong affinity with its neighboring Iran and Pakistan species. At the far south is its increasing influence of African species. A number of relict species is prevalent in a number of habitats in the country. The vegetation of Oman is influenced by two major plant groups: the Saharo-Sindian (Arabian) groups in the west and central Oman and the Somalia-Masai (African) groups in the south (Ghazanfar and Fisher, 1998). Table 1 shows an updated tally of biodiversity found in Oman indicating conservation status of each group. Wetlands, Islands and Marine Biodiversity Wadis, khwars, sabkhas and mangrove forests encompass the country’s wetlands. Seasonal water flows or wadis are one of the most common and important landscape elements in Oman draining rainwater from wide catchment areas and high mountains. Terraces along wadi banks are intensively farmed. Vegetation along wadis include Tamarix, Saccharum sp., Nerium mascatense, Ficus cordata and Acacia nilotica. Alluvial plains support growth of Acacia, Ziziphus, Moringa and Ficus salicifolia. Extensive sand dunes are associated to the coastal areas and are important protector of beaches. The dunes and their associated grasses and shrubs trap marine sands which help prevent both the erosion of beaches and the covering of inland areas by wind-blown sand. Khwars are productive and valuable fish-breeding and nursery areas supporting dense masses of Enteromorpha, mullet fishes and the edible crab Scylla serrata. Fig. 2 shows a typical lagoon in the Dhofar region. Coastal plains and sabkha vegetation are dominated by mosaic-like communities of halophytes, drought-decidious thorn woodlands and open xeromorphic shrublands and grasslands. There are four coastal vegetation communities recognized (Patzelt and Al Farsi, 2000): 1) Limonium stocksii-Zygophylum quatarense community in northern Oman where the coasts are mainly sandy and interspersed with rocky limestone, 2) Limonium
  1. stocksii-Suaeda aegyptica community characteristic or rocky shores with narrow beach areas and a wide spray zone, 3) Atriplex-Sueda community along offshore islands, flat sandy beaches and coastal sabkhas, 4) coastal lagoons with Sporobolus virginicus, Sporobolus iocladus and Paspalum vaginatum as bordering species and Phragmites australis and Typha spp forming bordering reeds.
Oman has a coastline stretch of 3,165 km which had been perceived as entirely covered by mangroves long time ago. Unfortunately, mangroves had been greatly reduced due to deforestation for fuelwood, grazing, and coastal developments. Mangrove vegetation is spread sporadically in the coastal areas of the country. In spite of massive mangrove destruction, there still exist good stands in Northern Batinah, Muscat, Eastern Sharqiyah, Mahawt Island and Salalah. It now covers a total of 1,100 ha. There are few outstanding islands in Oman which include Dimaniyat, Masirah and Kuria-Murai (Hallniyat). Except for Dimaniyat, all other islands are still in the proposal state to become protected areas. The Dimaniyat Islands Nature Reserve encloses some 203 sq km of sea and seabed and includes the nine islands, rocks and reefs and offshore shoals situated about 18 kms off the Seeb-Barka coast. The reserve is an outstanding conservation area of national and regional importance. They have the highest density of nesting seabirds and the only known osprey nesting sites in the capital area. They also shelter the largest nesting population of hawksbill turtles in the country. These are relative unspoiled islands of great scenic beauty offering a living natural museum, including the nesting green turtles and sooty falcons and a variety of reefs with high coral diversity. Both the islands and the reefs are important to the mainland-based fishermen and people from Muscat, for fishing, recreation and worship. This is the most important site for wildlife conservation in the capital area and urgently in need of a management plan. Surveys conducted in the preparation of the Oman Coral Reef Management Plan have revealed significant damage to the reefs and widespread degradation. The coral reefs are threatened by large scale, irreversible damage and continued devaluation or loss of coral reef resources. Trends/Issues on Aquatic Biodiversity Mangrove lagoons and khawrs (khayraan) of Oman are subject to damage from rapid development to include the following issues: 1) port and fishing boat harbour construction- require damaging landfill and dredging causing coastal erosion and sedimentation; 2) road construction; 3) tourism and recreation; 4) solid waste and water pollution; 4) sustainable utilization and biodiversity conservation; 5) planting and new locations; 6) seed provenance; 7) mangrove nurseries; 8) monitoring; 9) education and awarenss; 10) existing facilities; 11) information sharing and communication; 12) coordination; and 13) Omanization. Coral reefs throughout Oman are threatened by large scale, irreversible damage and the continued devaluation or loss of coral reef resources, including those currently of value to fisheries, tourism and recreation, coastal protection, scientific study, marine biodiversity and marine ecology. Natural impacts on Oman’s coral reefs indicate unusual and stressful conditions that corals in the Sultanate must tolerate. Principal impacts are:
  1. Fishery-related damage causing coral reef breakage; caused by tangled gill nets and boat anchors
  2. coastal destruction
  3. litter
  4. recreational activities
  5. oil pollution
  6. discharges from desalination plant
  7. enriched water discharges from sea farms
In Oman, its aquatic ecosystems are unique in the sense that their locations are in an arid region and that its biodiversity composition has evolved into species that had been resilient of the almost harsh and dry environment. Therefore, any significant perturbation to their natural environment will result in the biodiversity’s eventual extinction. Aquatic communities include the spring-streams and wedian (plural of wadi). Streams originating from springs (ayns) could be natural or man-made aflaj (plural of falaj). Springs usually originate in the mountains or in the foothills of mountains. The Ministry of Water Resources has reported 69 important springs in the Sultanate of which 45 are cold and 33 are thermal. Of the total, 64 also yield potable water. Local rainfall patterns in the watershed affect the number of active streams at any given time. Floods affect the structuring and restructuring of habitats in the wedian. On the biodiversity point of view, only Muaydin drainage at Birkat al Mawz had been studied yielding 33 invertebrates and three vertebrate taxa were recorded in a1.5-km strength of the wadi (Victor and Al Mahrougqi, 1996 as cited by Victor, 2000). There are no large natural freshwater lakes in Oman. However, in Wadi Darbat in the Dhofar region, the wadi pools merge to form lake-like conditions immediately after the khareef or monsoon. The pools shrink in size during the dry winter period. There are also reservoirs, ponds or pools and khwars in other parts of the country. Khwars in northern Oman are mostly brackish and sometimes hypersaline, while many in the Dhofar region remain freshwater for most part of their hydrological cycles. Important retention reservoirs are found in Jabal Akhdar area. Temporary ponds are those that dry up during most of the months of the year but refill briefly during rains while astatic pools are temporary with unpredictable pattern of recurrence. Thriving in such ponds are the ciliates, rotifers, copepods, Cladocera and Ostracoda. Some macro crustaceans like shrimps (Anostraca), tadpole shrimps (Nostraca) and clam shrimps (Conchostraca) occur in these habitats (Victor, 2000). Khwars are best studied in the Sultanate. The biota included the fringing terrestrial and aquatic macrophytes (Ghazanfar, 1998), micro invertebrates, crustaceans macrofauna, mosquitoes, fish and birds by various scientists. Knowledge of aquatic macrophytes in Oman is very poor. In the retention reservoirs of the Western Hajar Mountains, Potamogeton nodosus dominated the macrophytes. Some species of micro/macro crustaceans, insects, freshwater mollusks, leeches, nematodes, other invertebrates, had been recorded but many species has to be identified or species to be verified. Oman has seven species of freshwater fish. Several exotic fish species have started establishing populations in the wild which is a threat to the environment. Tadpoles of Bufo arabicus and Bufo dhufarensis are common in the freshwaters of northern and southern Oman, respectively (Victor, 2000). Overgrazing of vegetation in watersheds contributes to erosion and consequent severe siltation of khawr areas and the productive near shore marine environment. Feral animals like dogs, cats, goats, donkeys, introduced rats are potential threats to wildlife leading to potential extirpation of sensitive species. Other issues raised (Ministry of Commerce and Industry and IUCN, 1986-1991) reveal the following: Beaches and camping sites and scenic areas are fouled by litter.
  • Drying of sardines and discard of fish offal, old nets, oil drums, rusted freezers and other litter on fish landing beaches diminishes their value for recreation.
  • People lacking support of fisheries resource management due to ignorance or inadequate knowledge and information.
  • Gross wastage of fishes together with the capture of undersize and berried crayfish is depleting fishery resources. , polluting beaches, and potentially threatening some species, notably crayfish, sharks and groupers with local extermination..
  • Coastal archeological sites are being lost to coastal development, damaged by vehicle traffic and road works, looted by amateurs or degraded by litter before they are studied.
  • Human predation of breeding seabirds and their eggs has resulted in local extermination of breeding colonies
  • Mangroves , reeds and rushes are endangered by development pressure,overgrazing, infilling, pollution and dumping of garbage
  • Intermittent illegal discharges of oil at sea off the coast contaminate the beaches with oil and tarballs, destroy their recreational value and threaten the breeding seabird colonies
  • Escalating sand mining activities or the demand for sand by new development schemes could lead to disappearance of smaller beaches.
  • Careless fishing practices are damaging corals thereby reducing aesthetic value of reefs for recreation, and their productive value for fisheries, through entanglement of nets, ropes and anchors
  • Enriched waste water from inland containment lagoons enters the khawrs and solid wastes are dumped in the khawrs, mangroves and wadis, on the beach and into the sea
  • Coral reefs in much of Mussandam are being devastated by the Crown-of-thorns Starfish (Acanthaster planci) and temperature-induced bleaching of the corals
  • Breeding population of turtles are threatened by collision with the high speed boats of Iranian traders and heavy oil and flotsam pollution of their nesting beaches
  • Gunnery target practice by Royal Navy of Oman causes disturbance to seabirds
  • Tourism village, fisheries and other development projects may create the need for new or upgraded roads and improved access to the seashore could stimulate beach erosion, damage coastal environments and reduce their value for recreation, wildlife and fisheries, or lead to further loss of beaches.
Little is known about the population status of cetaceans in the waters of Oman. The Environment Society of Oman (ESO) had collected sufficient data by photo identification techniques only for the Humpback Whale. There is also historic whaling data for this species which enables a limited understanding of historic abundance and so a rudimentary trend assessment has been possible. The results of this work indicate very conclusively that Humpback Whales occur in very low numbers in Oman (Baldwin, 2009), with a best estimate of just 82 individuals remaining in the population (95% CI 60-111, Chapman/Petersen Index). Oman’s population of humpback whales is therefore genetically unique, and in severe danger of extinction. IUCN has declared the population Endangered (see attachment) based on its low numbers and limited regional range, and it is widely acknowledged that this is one of the rarest baleen whale populations in the world. ESO’s involvement in turtle research in Oman is currently focused on Loggerhead Turtles nesting on Masirah Island. This has included systematic data collection according to rigorous scientific protocols undertaken over the past two years that have allowed for preliminary estimates of abundance. When pooled with previous data, albeit collected in a non-systematic and less scientific manner, some analysis of trends has been possible. These data suggest that the historic nesting population of Loggerheads on Masirah Island was in the region of 30-40,000 females in the late 1970’s, but has declined since this time to a level of perhaps 20-25,000 by the early 1990’s and to an estimated minimum of 12,000 by 2008 (Baldwin, 2009). This decline is similar to that experienced by the only other comparably large population of this species in the world, namely that of the Eastern United States (Florida), as well as most other populations globally. Oman would therefore appear to be no different to other nations of the world in experiencing severe decline in its nesting Loggerhead population. However, Oman has a greater responsibility than most countries to implement conservation measures to prevent further decline, or indeed enhance recovery, owing to the fact that its population remains one of the two largest in the world and probably still constitutes up to 40% of all nesting females. ESO has also been involved with assessment of Hawksbill Turtles nesting on the Daymaniyat Islands. No population estimate has been attempted, but ecological evidence suggests that the nesting population is at, or very near to, carrying capacity. Threats to Aquatic Biodiversity Man had created impacts on aquatic biodiversity by: habitat alteration, pollution and biological invasions. Almost all spring-stream systems in the country have been harnessed as aflaj networks which are man-made channels. Traditional retention dams to harness surface run-off are also common in the mountain villages. Recent activities like construction of recharge dams and roads have severe impacts on the habitats. Mining, oil production and agriculture also physically impaired the habitats. Alteration of wadi courses and changes in the drainage characteristics of catchments impact both aquatic and terrestrial biodiversity. Over use of water for agriculture has resulted in salt water intrusion. This causes salinization of groundwater affecting both freshwater and terrestrial biodiversity. Agricultural land use, road and bridge construction activities and mining resulted in sediment loading of aquatic habitats directly or via surface run0off. Siltation has impacted on the depositional and erosional biotopes of perennial springstreams. Silt and sand are deposited in khawrs and retention reservoirs affecting survival of biodiversity. Chemical pollutants such as nitrogen and phosphorus and toxic pesticides, hydrocarbons from oil and heavy metals from industrial wastes including organic wastes from sewage and septage disposal all contributed in the devastation of aquatic biodiversity. Biological invasion of the water hyacinth (Eicchornia crassipes) has caused problems in choking water ways and degrading perennial water bodies into swamps in Oman (Victor, 2000). Tilapia (Oreochromis) has been introduced into Oman for aquaculture and mosquito control purposes. Its distribution now extends from Sohar in the north to Bahla in the interior. It is fast adapting to the conditions in aflaj where water flow is rapid and depth in only a few centimeters. Pet fish trade brings in an enormous number of exotics such as the guppys and platys. They had established viable populations in ornamental ponds. Litter, tar balls and coastal roads are most conspicuous threats to shore land environments. Small beaches in the Khasab area and along the north coast of the peninsula are staging posts for Iranian small boat traders. These beaches are severely littered with tins, bottles, glass, plastic bags, cartons and sand bags used as ballast. Beaches and seabed at anchorages are frequented by people. Green turtles are occasionally slaughtered and their eggs dug up for domestic use or for sale. Some turtles and hatchlings are caught incidentally in gill nets set parallel to and blocking nesting beaches or nets left directly on beaches. They are left to drown, or fell easy prey to crabs, foxes and gulls. Turtle watchers and photographers patrolling the beach at night scare back emerging turtles. Lanterns and fires disorient hatchlings who will occasionally wander into the flames or far inlands. Sand mining threatens nesting beaches. Egg clutches are lost when sections of beach are over washed or erosion occurs in response to natural tidal cycles and strong onshore winds. Eggs and hatchling also fell as easy prey when exposed. Over-harvesting of the mangrove trees for fuel wood and fodder for feeding of livestock had destroyed large areas near human habitations. People intruding inside the mangroves not only destroy the vegetation but leave a lot of litter polluting the forest. Fishing nets entangled on reefs, lost and abandoned nets are killing many forms of marine life continuously and indiscriminately. Anchors, fish traps, ropes fishing line and other fishing gear are also damaging with reported worst areas such as Dimaniyat, Bandar Jissah, Bandar Khayran and Masirah Island. Coastal developments such as resorts, residence construction particularly in the Muscat area have greatly disturbed the areas. Species Diversity Macroalgae The macroalgae or seaweeds are photosynthetic, non-flowering plants with over 8,500 species worldwide. They are subdivided into three main Divisions the Chlorophyta (green algae), Phaeophyta (brown algae) and the Rhodophyta (red algae). They are limited to growth in the upper 10 to 20 meter depth zones as well as in the intertidal zone. Strong southwest winds of the summer southwest monsoon run from June to September along the Arabian Sea coasts of Oman which create one of the most intense coastal upwellings in the world. The high levels of nutrients, along with low seawater temperatures (< 20 °C) account for the annual development of dense beds of macroalgae. High air temperatures and desiccation reduce intertidal growth outside these periods along Arabian Sea coasts whilst they almost completely eliminate intertidal seaweed development along northern coasts of Oman not impacted by the southwest monsoon. The macroalgal flora of Oman now includes some 323 species. This present list of taxa is made up of 69 taxa of Chlorophyta, 50 taxa of Phaeophyta and 205 taxa of Rhodophyta. This does not include crustose coralline algae. There have been few studies on the macroalgae of Oman, e.g. the survey mainly for commercial potential of seaweeds by Mardela Int. (1975) listed around 30 taxa identified mostly to generic level. A list of seaweed taxa is given in Barratt et al., (1984) with over 200 taxa of macroalgae collected in Dhofar mainly in the post monsoon period. Several species of macroalgae were listed in the paper on seagrasses by Jupp et al., (1996) and most of the 74 new records of benthic macroalgae (34 taxa of Rhodophyta, 16 taxa of Phaeophyta and 24 taxa of Chlorophyta) published in Wynne & Jupp (1998) came from Jupp’s collections. New records were found during the Oman Seaweed Project (1998 –2000). A total of 232 taxa were presented as a Preliminary Check List of marine macroalgae of Oman comprised of 2 taxa of Cyanophyta, 52 taxa of Chlorophyta, 49 taxa of Phaeophyta and 129 taxa of Rhodophyta. The total number of species in any country or region often depends on the effort and time spent by taxonomists. The task in Oman is still in the early stages but recent studies have been carried out by M. Wynne and the Belgian group (T. Schils, K. Pauly). There are useful sources on the internet to check for macroalgal taxonomy namely and the Oman seaweed flora is the Indian Ocean catalogue which is accessible on at Trends Barratt et al., (1984) reported the occurrence of the true kelp Ecklonia radiata (Laminariales) found at greater depths (between 6 to 11 m) off Sadh where the maximum upwelling occurs. The record of this kelp in a tropical region is of great biodiversity interest as it is otherwise reported only from South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. The presence of this exceptional record of a temperate species has not recently been confirmed since despite attempts (most recently in 2009) to find it. It is possible that the species is confined to a very localized site east of Sadh, Dhofar; further efforts should be made to confirm its presence. Threats The main threats to macroalgae include oil pollution and the construction impacts from rapid coastal developments. Conservation status The macroalgae are of primary importance as food supply for abalone, echinoderms, herbivorous fish and the green turtle. It is important to conserve stocks of algal beds for potential utilisation and also as feeding grounds for the above animals.  Seagrasses. To date there are four known seagrass species in Oman, the smaller Halodule uninervis and Halophila ovalis and the larger-leaved Syringodium isoetifolium and Thalassodendron ciliatum (Jupp et al., 1996). These are restricted to shallow sand and mud substrates both in intertidal and shallow subtidal habitats. Turtles, fishes and mollusks frequently feed on seagrass beds. Studies up to 1996 on the distribution, abundance and biomass of seagrasses in Oman found the best development on the west coast of Masirah Island. Further studies have shown higher densities and biomass of H. uninervis at Ra’s Sawadi in the Sea of Oman. In contrast to the seaweeds, the southwest monsoon upwelling system along Arabian Sea coats is stressful for seagrasses and the lower biomass of H. uninervis at Masirah Island than at other sites is thought to be due to cold, turbid waters during summer upwelling and grazing at the Arabian Sea sites. Trends Cyclone Gonu, a Super Cyclonic Storm which caused extensive damage from 5 – 7 June 2007 along the Sea of Omn was the strongest tropical cyclone on record to hit the Arabian peninsula. The dense beds of Halodule uninervis and Halophila ovalis in the shallow intertidal at Ra’s Sawadi apparently were destroyed by this storm. Conservation status The beds of Halodule uninervis and Halophila ovalis around Mahawt Island in Ghubbat Hashish are of particular importance as habitat for the important shrimp fishery providing shelter for juveniles of Penaeus semisulcatus. Areas of seagrasses here and in the Masirah channel provide important feeding grounds for the green turtle Chelonia mydas. Fish. Eighty-three species of sharks, rays and guitarfishes are found in Oman waters together with 905 species of bony fishes (DGNC-MECA, 2009). Several species of cartilaginous fishes are protected in Oman with Narrow Sawfish (Anoxpristis cuspidata) and Olive Sawfish (Pristis zijsron) listed as critically endangered in the IUCN Red List. Sharks had suffered from population decline due to overfishing. Mostly they are caught from incidental fishing. Shark fins are collected and being sought as a delicacy. In mangroves, the small pupfish (Aphanius dispar) is very common and breeds in khwars and freshwater springs. Typical residents of mangroves are the milkfish (Chanos chanos), mullet, glassfish, Ambassis natalensis, gobies, grunts, and tigerperch (Terapon jarbua).  Corals. Within its territorial waters, Oman’s hard coral (scleractinian) fauna now includes 132 species distributed in 15 Families (Claereboudt, 2009). Several species remains unidentified: most notably perhaps the Montipora species building the very large reef near Barr Al Hikman. Coral reefs may still be in pristine condition in the country’s protected areas  but have suffered recent damage from various causes especially Cyclone Gonu of 2007 and the HABs event of 2008-2009. Several coral species are considered rare (Acropora nasuta, Montipora Cfdigitata,Madracis kirbyi, Favia favus, Acanthastrea maxima, Porites decasepta, and Psammocoraramosa (DGNC, 2009; Veron, 2000, Claereboudt, 2009) and there are at least 10 endemic species. All species of corals are classified under CITES 2 category where trading is determined by the country’s Managing Authority. Several new records for the country were made in Dhofar: particularly a very unusual set of Tubipora musica colonies. Which normally have a dark red skeleton and here were complete white. Several colonies of Pavona minuta were also observed near Hino (Mirbat) in a single embayments and several specimen of Fungia scabra were collected at 22m near Sadah. A couple of specimen of Goniastrea were also observed and photographed. The coast between Mirbat and Sadh is particularly rich and has a very unusual community structure. Several species of Acropora, Favites, Favia and Porites have also been observed and collected for the first time and their identification is currently underway. Perhaps another 10-15 species of corals are awaiting to be collected in the Dhofar region. Trends Cyclone Gonu had a profound effect on many coral communities near Muscat with 1000’s of square meters of reef heavily affected. In some areas all branching species have disappeared and complete communities (e.g. Sifah) have been obliterated. In Fall 2008 and Spring 2009, a massive dinoflagellate bloom of Cochlodinium polykrikoides was responsible for the direct (toxicity) or indirect (oxygen depletion) of many communities, particularly in Musandam. Communities already strongly affected by Cyclone Gonu were even more distressed by this second environmental disturbance and in summer 2009, the combination with high insolation with low wind mixing led to extreme warming of the surface water leading to massive bleaching of the coral community in later summer. Threats Fishing practices remains unfortunately a major contributor to the local destruction ofcorals. In Dhofar, entanglements by fishing lines and litter (rice bags, plastic bags) represent the most direct threats to coral colonies. Other Invertebrates. A repository of the country’s collections of insects and other invertebrates exist in the Oman Natural History Museum. The museum houses specimens of land mollusks, isopods and arachnids, so far considered as one the best collections in the country. More field explorations, collections and taxonomic studies are needed to fully describe the country’s invertebrate fauna. Taxonomists are also limited in number to study major invertebrate groups. Checklists of species are available from the following sources:
  • 18 species of isopods with nine endemic species and one endemic genus, Omanodillo (Crustacea: Oniscidea; Gardner, 2000)
  • 40 species and subspecies of scorpions (Arachnida: Scorpions; Gardner, 2000)
  • 221 sp of insects plus eight species of gastropods (DGNC, 2009)
  • 58 species of sandy beach macrofauna (polychaetes, oligochaetes, crustaceans and mollusks: McLachlan, et al., 1998)
  • 182 species diatoms, dictyocha, dinoflagellates and cyanobacteria (Al Azri, 2009)
Coral Reefs. Small coral reefs are found in sheltered areas with a rocky substrate. Older Porites reefs have huge individual colonies that represent more than 300 years of continous growth. There is evidence of periodic, widespread death of corals particularly the branching forms. Pocillopora damicronis, Montipora and Pavoan cactus also build small patch of reefs. Most rocky coastal environments supported scattered colonies of both hard and soft corals, offering food and shelter to numerous fishes and spiny lobsters and many attached marine creatures. They form an almost continuous cover in the less exposed areas. They are valuable to fisheries. Mollusks. Fifty-eight species had been recorded from the mangroves and tidal channels. Among the gastropods are cowries, ceriths, dog whelks, dove shells, olives, moon shell and conch. Bivalves include Venus Clams and ark shells. Attached to mangrove roots are oysters, vermitids and rock shells. The large horn shell or mud snail, Terebralia palustris is exclusively found in the northwest. Aquaculture: MAF established the aquaculture laboratory in 1992 with the following projects: Experimental shrimp and shellfish culture of Penaeus indicus, P. monodon, P. japonicus, Pinctada margaritifera, P. radiata and Mytilus pictus. They also experimented on Finfish cage culture (Sparus aurata, Acanthopagrus cuvieri) and Abalone pilot seed production of Haliot mariae. Crustaceans. Forty-three crustacean species had been documented in the mangrove areas of Oman with the majority of these found in other itnertidal habitats such as mudflats and rocky shores. The Large Land Crab (Cardisoma carnifex) thrives in khwars of Dhofar while the tidal inlets support the sand crabs (Dotilla and Scopimera) in the north but absent in the south. The large marsh crab (Neosarmatium meinerti) is found on trees only at Mahawt Island. Of commercial value are the White Shrimp (Penaeus indicus) and Mud Crabs (Scylla serrata) having small fragile populations in such ecosystem but thought they can not support commercial fishery. Echinoderms. As part of a project on Sea Cucumber aquaculture, funded by the fisheries Research Fund, the distribution of species of echinoderms has also been partially investigated. So far, Claereboudt (2009) had identified 16 species, probably five or 10 more maybe found. Similar to corals, Dhofar communities are richer (12 species) than the Sea of Oman (eight species) or Musandam (six species). Sixteen species of seaurchins (including three irregular) had been identified though several species remain unidentified. Three irregular sea urchin fauna species remained almost undiscovered in the Sultanate, significant effort needs to be done to fill this void. Nineteen species of sea stars have been recorded, but there are several more species particularly in the smaller ones (Asterina) that need to be identified. Only about four of these sea stars are present in the Sea of Oman, all others are found in Dhofar. Only three species of crinoids have been recorded, two in Musandam, one in Muscat and three in Dhofar. Trends. Globally, the population of echinoderms suffered from both the hurricane Gonu and the toxic algal bloom of 2009. After Gonu, there was a strong decline of Diadema sea urchin on most reefs, however, because of the abundance of food (algal turf) in the months and years after Gonu, the recovery of Diadema has been rapid. The same is true for Holothuroidea. The starfish population remained apparently little affected. It is interesting to note that in all cases, the species richness is higher in Dhofar. An interesting observation is the strong decline of the Acanthaster planci population both in the Sea of Oman and in the Arabian Sea. In middle to late 2000s, population near Muscat for instance was between 20-40/20min dives whereas in 2007, 2008 and 2009, it was often less than 1/20min of survey dive. There seem to be a slight increase in the number of feeding scars in the last six months suggesting perhaps the return of an outbreak. Threats. Echinoderms are usually adaptable and since many have cryptic life habits, they are not directly endangered by human activities. Except for sea cucumber, Holothuria scabra, a very valuable species found only near Mahout (Al-Wusta Region) was fished exhaustively since 2005. The Ministry of Fisheries Wealth tried to curb the trend by establishing a temporary ban and a small scale aquaculture program. Other sea cucumber species with commercial potential (Holothuria atra, Stichopus variegatus, Holothuria nobilis) are at risk. Arabian Gulf (Gulf of Oman) The Arabian Gulf has a tropical climate. The sea depth is generally very shallow with hard and soft bottom substrates. The maximum water depth is of 90 m and the average depth of 50 m. Extensive tidal shallows (from 0 to 50 m), which are characteristic of most of the coast, are ideal for trap fishing. On the east coast fishermen living in fishing villages at the mouths of the “wadis” (rivers) benefit from rich stocks nourished by the deepwater upwelling. Here, beach seine netting (called “yaroof”) and the casting of drift nets (“al-hayali”) or the use of gillnets (“al-liekh”) often set on the bottom, are also deployed (usually from dhows, i.e. wooden local fishing boats). Long-lines (known locally as “manshalla”) are also used. In recent years there has been substantial investment in the fishing fleet with an increase in boat numbers, boat sizes and better equipment. Since 2010, the fish landings have been increasing. The stocks distribution varies from demersal, benthic and pelagic resources. The fishing activity of this Gulf is artisanal and it is practised all year round using hand lines and pole-lines (manually operated), trolling lines, barriers, fences, weirs, corrals, etc., artisanal skiff net or dhow (traditional vessel made from wood or fiberglass of 12–18 m), which can be equipped with inboard engine (gillnets and entangling nets), beach seines, and dhow fish trap fishery (barriers, fences, weirs, corrals, etc.). In 2012, a total production of 17 787 tonnes were fished by 1 636 boats manned by 2 706 fishermen. The species targets are tuna (Thunnus tonggol, Auxis thazard, Thunnus albacares), grouper (Epinephelus tauvina, Epinephelus chlorostigma, Epinephelus areolatus ), silver grunt (Pomadasys argenteus), spangled emperor (Lethrinus nebulosus), soldierbream (Argyrops filamentosus), blackspot snapper (Lutjanus ehrenbergii), narrowbarred Spanish mackerel (Scomberomorus commerson), great barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda), longfin trevally (Carangoides armatus), Indian threadfish (Alectis indicus), Indian mackerel (Rastrelliger kanagurta), greater amberjack (Seriola dumerilii), anchovies (Engraulidae), herrings, sardines (Clupeidae). Oman Sea The Oman Sea is 200 miles (320 km) wide and situated between Cape Al-Ḥadd in Oman and Gwādar Bay on the Pakistan/Islamic Republic of Iran border. It is 350 miles (560 km) long and connects with the Persian Gulf to the northwest through the Strait of Hormuz. In 2012, the total Omani fish catch from this sea was estimated at 42 305 tonnes (22% of the total catch national production), employing some 16 462 fishermen (about 39% of the total fishermen in Oman) operating 7 058 boats (35% of the total Omani boats). The fishing practised is mainly artisanal and is active year round. Important fisheries exist for demersal, benthic and pelagic species. The most common fishing gear used here include skiff traps, skiff hand/pole lines and trolling lines, skiff nets (gillnets and entangling nets), beach seines). The traditional dhow fishing boats are widely used. The species targeted include: Emperors (Lethrinidae), groupers (Epinephelus tauvina, Epinephelus chlorostigma, Epinephelus areolatus), tigerperches (Terapontidae), goatfishes (Mullidae) porgies, seabreams (Sparidae), sharptooth jobfish (Pristipomoides typus), tuna (Thunnus tonggol, Thunnus albacares, Auxis thazard), sharks (Sphyrnidae), barracudas (Sphyraenidae), kawakawa (Euthynnus affinis), sharptooth jobfish (Pristipomoides typus), narrow-barred Spanish mackerel (Scomberomorus commerson), Marlins, sailfishes, (Istiophoridae), seabasses (Serranidae), porgies, Carangids (Carangidae), requiem sharks (Carcharhinidae), sharks (Sphyrnidae), Indo-Pacific sailfish (Istiophorus platypterus), striped bonito (Sarda orientalis), talang queenfish (Scomberoides commersonnianus), anchovies (Engraulidae), herrings, sardines (Clupeidae), Indian mackerel (Rastrelliger kanagurta), redtail scad (Decapterus kurroides), dolphinfishes (Coryphaenidae), blacktip trevally (Caranx heberi), striped bonito (Sarda orientalis), sand devils (Squatinidae), and black pomfret (Parastromateus niger). Arabian Sea of Oman There is approximately 1 200 km of Omani coast along the Arabian Sea, extending from Ra’s Al-Hadd in the north to the Oman/Yemen border in the south. In 2012, the Arabian Sea was  responsible for 68 percent of the total fish catch in Oman and employed around 23 385 fishermen (55% of the total fishermen in Oman) operating 11 249 boats (56% of the national fishing fleet). The major fishing gear used are artisanal gillnets, trawls, long-lines and purse seines. The skiff cuttlefish and squid fishery has been using barriers, fences, weirs, corrals, etc. This fishery operates seasonally from September to October and the target species are the pharaoh cuttlefish, Sepiidae loliginidae (inshore squid) and Octopodidae (octopuses). The skiff fish trap fishery also uses barriers, fences, weirs, corrals, etc. This fishery is artisanal and practised year round.The targeted species include parrotfishes (Scaridae), emperors (Lethrinidae), grouper (Epinephelus chlorostigma, Epinephelus areolatus), seabreams (Sparidae), snappers (Lutjanidae), and sea catfishes (Ariidae). The skiff hand line and trolling line fishery is artisanal and practiced all year. The resources exploited are pelagic and demersal stocks. The vessel used is a fiberglass boat called skiff, fitted with outboard engine, and measuring between 4–12 m total length. The fishing gear is basically hand lines, hand operated pole-lines and trolling lines. The target species are croakers, drums (Sciaenidae), giant trevally (Caranx ignobilis), spangled emperor (Lethrinus nebulosus), bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix), greasy grouper (Epinephelus tauvina), tuna (Thunnus tonggol, Thunnus albacares), porgies, and seabreams (Sparidae). The skiff lobster fishery is still artisanal and operates seasonally from March to April using barriers, fences, weirs, corrals, etc. as fishing gear. Spiny lobsters (Palinuridae), painted spiny lobster (Panulirus versicolor) and scalloped spiny lobster (Panulirus homarus) constitute the target species of this fishery. The skiff net fishery is an artisanal fishery practised all year using gillnets and entangling nets; the resources exploited are pelagic stocks and the target species are sardines (Clupeidae), sea catfishes (Ariidae), herrings, Indianmackerel (Rastrelliger kanagurta), chub mackerel (Scomber japonicus), largehead hairtail (Trichiurus lepturus), mullets (Mugilidae), talang queenfish (Scomberoides commersonnianus), hammerhead sharks (Sphyrnidae), and requiem sharks (Carcharhinidae). The skiff shrimp fishery practised in the Arabian Sea is artisanal and operates from September to December. The species fished are the green tiger prawn (Penaeus semisulcatus) and the Indian white prawn (Penaeus indicus). The beach seine fishery is artisanal and practised all year. Herrings, sardines, redtail scad (Decapterus kurroides) and the Indian oil sardine (Sardinella longiceps) are the species targeted. The dhow net fishery is an artisanal activity practised all year using gillnets and entangling nets. The species aimed for are tuna (Thunnus tonggol, Thunnus albacares), talang queenfish (Scomberoides commersonnianus), mackerel (Scomber japonicus, Scomberomorus commerson), bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix), kawakawa (Euthynnus affinis), black marlin (Makaira indica), sailfishes (Istiophoridae), barracudas (Sphyraenidae), giant trevally (Caranx ignobilis) and a variety of carangids (Carangidae). The dhow fish trap fishery is practised all year using gillnets and entangling nets; the resources exploited are pelagic stocks and the target species are sardines (Clupeidae), sea catfishes (Ariidae), herrings, Indian mackerel (Rastrelliger kanagurta), chub mackerel (Scomber japonicus), largehead hairtail (Trichiurus lepturus), mullets (Mugilidae), talang queenfish (Scomberoides commersonnianus), hammerhead sharks (Sphyrnidae), and requiem sharks (Carcharhinidae). The skiff shrimp fishery practised in the Arabian Sea is artisanal and operates from September to December. The species fished are the green tiger prawn (Penaeus semisulcatus) and the Indian white prawn (Penaeus indicus). The beach seine fishery is artisanal and practised all year. Herrings, sardines, redtail scad (Decapterus kurroides) and the Indian oil sardine (Sardinella longiceps) are the species targeted. The dhow net fishery is an artisanal activity practised all year using gillnets and entangling nets. The species aimed for are tuna (Thunnus tonggol, Thunnus albacares), talang queenfish (Scomberoides commersonnianus), mackerel (Scomber japonicus, Scomberomorus commerson), bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix), kawakawa (Euthynnus affinis), black marlin (Makaira indica), sailfishes (Istiophoridae), barracudas (Sphyraenidae), giant trevally (Caranx ignobilis) and a variety of carangids (Carangidae). The dhow fish trap fishery is practised all year using barriers, fences, weirs, corrals, etc. as fishing gear. The  demersal stocks are the exploited resources and the target species are mainly groupers, seabasses (Serranidae), porgies, seabreams (Sparidae), snappers, jobfishes (Lutjanidae) and emperors (Haemulidae, Lethrinidae). The dhow hand-lines and trolling lines fishery is practised year-round and the stocks exploited are groupers (Epinephelus tauvina, Epinephelus areolatus, Epinephelus chlorostigma), greater amberjack (Seriola dumerili), emperors (Lethrinidae), porgies, seabreams (Sparidae), longtail tuna (Thunnus tonggol), sea catfishes (Ariidae), requiem sharks (Carcharhinidae), trevally (Caranx heberi, Carangoides armatus), croakers, and drums (Sciaenidae). The main targeted species by the Oman industrial long-line fishery is the yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares) fished all year round by steel vessel longliners equipped with handling and processing equipment allowing sorting, packing, quick freezing and fish storing onboard. The vessels are manned by a team of 20 persons that stay on board for trips lasting up to 35 days. The port of Mutrah is the final destination of this kind of fishing. In 2011, ten such vessels were operational with over 200 fishermen employed. In 2011 they jointly landed around 1 392 tonnes of fish.