Muscat: Oman has stepped up its crackdown on illegal fishing in Omani waters.
More than 600 expatriates have been arrested since October this year for violating the Omani Marine Law and for using illegal tools and equipment for fishing, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. In keeping with Omani Labour Law those arrested have been referred to concerned authorities, an official at the Ministry told Gulf News. The official added that those who were caught will not be allowed to go fishing in Omani waters again.
“The Ministry along with Royal Oman Police (ROP) is continuing to clamp down on illegal fish catches in Omani coastal areas,” the official said.
The Ministry has plans to intensify its inspection of boats which use illegal fishing nets that threaten marine life and jeopardise efforts toward sustainable fishing. The official added that as part of the inspection more than 100 boats and 200 illegal nets have been confiscated in Duqm, Masirah, Mahoot, Jalan and other places.
“We concentrated our inspections in these areas because we knew that number of fishing violators mostly expatriates were from these areas,” he added.
In 2016, the ministry issued a Decision No. 183/2016, regulating the use of gillnet (spinning/encircling) for fishing. The decision was aimed to protect the marine life.
The ministry has appealed to fishermen, citizens and sailors to abide by the marine fishing law and to protect marine resources. They urged people to report any suspicious activity via the hotline of the Maritime Security Centre 1999 or 24322999; or message them via WhatsApp on 91400430.
In September, a group of angry expatriate fisherman gave chase to the camera crew from Oman TV who were filming them at sea off the coast of Wusta governorate. The crew had filmed the expatriates while they were illegally catching shrimps using banned drift-nets. The journalists had to flee the scene to save themselves.
Only Omanis can obtain fishing licenses although many expatriates illegally work in the industry. Illegal fishermen face up to three months in jail and must pay a huge fine if they are caught.