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Thread: Oman - Another soon to be failed fishery???

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    Howick
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    Default Oman - Another soon to be failed fishery???

    I have been haunted by those elusive shore break surfing permit found in Southern Oman for the past 10 years. I saw my first one at Ras Mad in 2006, but at that stage, because I had only recently arrived in the UAE from RSA, and had only fished freshwater, I was totally under-armed with a 5 wt, and my fly selection consisted of woolly buggers, lake dragons, walkers killers, and red-eyed damsels. Thus, that fish probably chuckled to himself about wtf this moron was throwing in front of it.

    So began my saltwater journey, and I have been investing in appropriate tackle / flies / casting methods / lines etc. ever since - probably far too much, as us fly-fishers all know about...

    Unfortunately, I don't have the financial resources to afford an ocean active or no-boundaries charter to the Hallaniyat islands, where the GTs are thick and the fisheries 'semi-protected,' At the same time, I get a thrill from DIY trips. So for the past 10 years, I have been travelling South to Ras Mad, Ras Merkaz, Hasik, Shuwaymiah etc. in search of the permit, shad, porgy's and trevs the coast has been renowned for. But, as the years have past, we have been forced to travel further and further is search of the bait balls and beach / rock fishing that used to be available down there.

    Ras Mad, at one point produced an 'unoffical' world record shad on the fly. But those days are long gone, and now we try to find the bits and pieces that have managed to escape the rape and pillage of the area.

    Picture driving 150 km of off-road tracks, arriving at a crystal clear rocky bay and seeing nets as far as the eye can see, hugging every reef, gully and point.
    Picture 7 dead turtles along a stretch of 15 kms of 'pristine white sandy beach.'
    Picture water bottles, gill nets, plastic crates and by-catch in every bay, 1000 km from the nearest city...for at least 1500 km...
    This was what we have recently been experiencing on our annual camping / 'fishing' trips down to Southern Oman.

    Did we catch fish this time, yes...but we traveled 3500 km for them. Only one big-eyed trevally was caught on fly, and the rest were on spinning tackle - shad, big-eye trevs, Wave Garrick, black-fin trevs and queens. But, all were small and we saw no real bait balls anywhere. Yes, the conditions were not perfect, but come-on, surely there had to be fish somewhere on that coast....surely?

    I despair about what I have seen down there. The coastline is stunning. The scenery is mind-blowing. But, the policing and fisheries management are almost non-existent. I have been trying to find scientific studies about the area and how the Omani government plans to manage the resource, and there is literally nothing out there in the interweb, bar one study on perlemoen / abalone. What I do know is that around 60 to 70 % of their population relies on fishing, and with the oil / gas situation as it is, this will get more and more important moving forward...but there doesn't seem to be any concern or urgency down there. In fact, they seem to be expanding their commercial operations at a frightening pace, developing more roads, processing plants, harbors and equipment at every turn. This is fine if they are policing, but they just arent.' Recently, they announced that Ras Merkaz, one of, if not the best permit beaches, will be developed into an oil and gas export depot....f$&k!!!

    We bumped into an Omani business man who exports crayfish to Europe and the far East. He had set up his camp on the Shuwaymiah harbour wall, and had been there for 3 weeks, 'managing' his team of bengali divers. He showed us his catch, and it was unbelievable how many crayfish they had already stored away in cages along the harbour wall. We asked him about his setup and if he was set any quotas or minimum sizes. He said that these were officially in place, but he happily pronounced that he got away with catching and processing any size he wanted because noone was regulating him. He also happily shifted the blame to his uneducated workforce of bengali divers, and said it was their fault because they would catch anything. Come on...why is he not educating them and imposing his own rules, seeing as though he is Omani and it is in his own interest to protect this resource.

    There has been an interesting exchange recently between some DIY flyfisherman and a new commercial operation who are offering fly-fishing trips for permit in Southern Oman. The point and outcome of this being that we, as private and commercial users of this fishery, should all be engaging the authorities down there and trying to bring awareness to the major issues coming in the near future. The question is, where do we start? How do we bring about awareness and who do we engage with? The major issue down there is that most of the fisherman were bought in from another country, and that education is pretty much non-existent. The other issues is that there doesn't seem to be any active policing, and the distances are huge between government offices and the fishing communities.

    I would be very interested to hear from anyone on this forum who is involved in this in RSA, regarding advice or suggestions of where to start. I have a real passion and personal interest regarding fishing in Southern Oman, and am devastated by what is happening there.

    Cheers

    Beefy

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    johannesburg
    Posts
    507

    Default

    sad to read about things like this and realisticly a mamoth task to restore some balance.
    maybe get an answer from the department of fisheries then summit your report to the newspaper, making the general public aware and maybe the above powers will receive some pressure

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Howick
    Posts
    371

    Default

    Here is a contribution to this conversation from Ray Montoya, one of the true legends in Oman flyfishing, and the person who caught both the first permit and bonefish on fly in this region...he has been fishing down there for the past 12 to 13 years, and experienced the best times of the fishery...sad...very sad indeed!!!:

    "Matt, I would re-title your essay which is spot on, failed fishery instead of soon to be failed. What was once a thriving healthy ecosystem has totally collapsed, at least the inshore habitat. I don't blame the Bengalis as they are simply told to go out there and trap, net and even spear everything they see. I have no hope for Oman's coastal fishery. It's done, stick a fork in it. I used to think that it would eventually get to the point where it was no longer economically feasible to fish and they would stop, but they continue to go out each morning and fish. I spent much of my weekend at Camel pulling nets out of rocks. I saw one perm and a few bream, but that was it! Overall, this year has been dismal for fly fishing. A few perms and bream. It's tough to fathom, especially if you were around in "the day" when it was common to release a dozen or more fish in a single morning. I continue to go out and walk the coast, but honestly, I have no expectation of seeing much. I still enjoy the walking and scenery. It might be time to find a new place to live. Keep up the good fight brother!"

    "I could easily tell you when exactly they fished out each species, starting with the kingfish, down through the cuttlefish, emperors, trevally, bream, etc. they just moved on to the next. They seem to be hitting the finger mullet and sardines really hard right now."

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Sniffing out adventure
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    256
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    http://feathersandfluoro.com/?p=13968#.VyZjr6NcSko

    Beefy, funny you should bring this up... Finished this a few days ago!

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