Muttrah has a brand new fish market and the authorities deserve all praise for gifting the nation an architectural marvel. The elegant structure nestled at one end of the grand Muttrah Cornich melds into the landscape like it was built along with the whole surroundings. Such organic structures are what architectural brilliance creates. Though it is called the Muttrah fish market, the facility has earmarked space for vegetable and fruit vendors. While fishmongers have been earmarked 1,410 sqm of space, fruit and vegetable shoppers have 810 sqm earmarked. There are separate areas for auction, sales and cleaning as well as a seafood restaurant, making the market self-contained and promoting efficiency. The project is a tribute to the nation’s love for tradition and its cultural moorings and is expected to prove a boost for tourism. The Sultanate’s long coastline abutting bountiful seas has through the ages sustained a healthy fishery industry. The nation needs more such facilities along the coast. Fisheries being a sector identified as vital for the nation’s economic progress under the diversification plan, there are proposals to set up extensive infrastructure. They would be a tribute to the coastal communities that have harnessed the oceans and made them yield their riches over the ages. The nation’s great seafaring traditions have been built on its people’s lives punctuated by the swells and ebbs of the tides. Omanis have traditionally been a seafaring community for trade and fishery. The protein-rich bounty of the seas has sustained their healthy lifestyle.
A World Bank report says that the Sultanate has a globally competitive fishery sector, which can compete with the best across the seas. In a nation whose people consume double the international average of fishery products, there should not be any inadequacy of infrastructure. Arguing for further strengthening the nation’s fishery sector, which is getting more attention recently as part of Tanfeedh, the report by a senior environmental expert of the World Bank points out the fishery sector employs up to 50,000 people from the coastal communities. They include the communities directly involved in fishery operations and those in downstream processes. The expert has supported the involvement of more Omani entrepreneurs in this key sector to bring in more diversity and innovation. The objective should be to mould the sector into sustainable and long-term source of income for diversifying the nation’s economy away from hydrocarbon sector where global economic headwinds strike first. No doubt the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has been well aware of the need to expand the fishing facilities to help the people exploit the marine riches even more fruitfully. With this in mind Dr Khalid Bin Mansour Al Zedjali, the director-general of fishing harbours, has underscored the government’s plans to strengthen the network of harbours and landing points along the 3,165km-long coast. The number of fishing harbours will eventually rise to 37, taking care of the infrastructure needs of fishermen. The total number of fish landing points will be raised to 151 providing all basic facilities to the fishermen. Muttrah’s iconic fish market is set to be the flagship facility that will serve as the model for future facilities, complete with mini markets, ice factories, storage facilities and areas for sorting and cleaning fish.