Oh, man!

Gulf Japan Food Fund (GJFF) has announced it has invested in Oman Fisheries Co SAOG, one of the largest fisheries companies in Oman.

GJFF is an international private equity fund focused on the food and beverage industry and backed by prominent Japanese institutions including Mizuho Bank and The Norinchukin Bank of Japan.

Oman Fisheries Co. SAOG (“Oman Fisheries”), one of the largest fisheries companies in Oman, was established in 1989 in Oman through a Royal Decree. It sources fish across Oman from local fishermen and operates 6 processing centres and a cold store facility near Muscat. Its key products are sardines, mackerel, cuttlefish, ribbonfish and yellowfin tuna. Hence our interest.

It is reported that through this transaction, GJFF “will provide support and assistance on various initiatives to achieve the long-term success and growth of Oman Fisheries and enhance capability and expansion of Oman’s fisheries sector.”

Hitoshi Sugawara, CEO & Co-CIO of Mizuho Gulf Capital Partners (GJFF’s Investment Manager) said, “Through this investment, we continue to strengthen our footprint in Oman, which we believe exhibits high potential, in particular its fisheries sector.

The GTA is concerned that this will lead to further pressure on overfished, and poorly managed, yellowfin tuna in the Indian Ocean.

Catches of yellowfin tuna from the Omani fleet have steadily increased[1] since 2011 and while we support equitable fishing opportunities to all fishing participants according to international law, we are concerned that the huge increase in reported catches (255% increase from 2017 to 2020) is occurring at a time where rebuilding plans are in operation. The 2020 Omani catch (68,785mt) formed 16% of the total 2020 catch (430,977mt) – and was the 2nd largest catch after the EU (71,820mt).

Indeed, in 2021 the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission agreed an interim rebuilding plan to limit catches to just over 400,000mt (which was just below the maximum sustainable yield). Unfortunately, Oman was one of 6 countries to formally object to the plan and accordingly will not be bound by the catch limits.

The GTA urges the GJFF to use their influence to bring Oman ‘back to the table’ and participate in the rebuilding of, and comprehensive long-term management of yellowfin tuna. By doing so, both GJFF and the Omani fisheries communities can benefit from a healthy, and profitable yellowfin tuna fishery.

[1] Source: https://www.iotc.org/documents/SC/24/NR19

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