MoAF stops issue of artificial reef licences to fishermen for a year

October 28, 2017

The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MoAF) has stopped granting licences to fishermen for construction of artificial reefs for a year. The move is based on the Ministerial Decision No 285/2017 issued recently.

The decision is based on the Marine Fishing Law and Protection of Living Aquatic Resources issued by Royal Decree 53/81. Dr Hussein al Maskati, director, development and management of Fish Resources, MoAF, said the temporary ban has been imposed keeping in mind the safety of marine resources.

“To build artificial reefs, most of the fishermen throw building waste and other toxic substances into the sea, which although temporarily help grow coral and attract a lot of fish, but are harmful to the marine environment. Secondly, the ministry aims to prevent disputes that arise between fishermen who demarcate fishing areas for themselves in the sea after establishing reefs. This will help organise the sector in a better way.”

Meanwhile, MoAF will establish one of the largest farms for artificial reefs over an area of 20km in Suwaiq. For this it has even got in touch with an international company. “We will start establishing the farm in the first quarter of next year to help all fishermen benefit equally from the bounties of the sea,” said Dr Maskati.

He added, “In the past, the ministry has established thousands of artificial reefs to boost marine life and income of fishermen in the area, so that they can raise their standard of living.” Many artificial reefs have also been built along the coasts of the country by some private companies in North and South Batinah, South Sharqiyah and Muscat as part of their social responsibilities. Dr Maskati urges fishermen to preserve artificial reefs and choose the right fishing methods to preserving the marine environment of the country. Artificial reefs are also great tourist sites that are of particular interest to divers.