The oceanic coast of Oman is subject to large oceanic upwellings which bring nutrient rich waters to the surface resulting in high productivity and making it one of the most important countries for seabirds in the Middle East. The islands off Oman support two rare endemic species, the Jouanin's Petrel (NT), and in those of the Arabian sea the Socotra Cormorant (VU). The waters around Oman also support a number of other coastal and seabird species such as the White-ceeked Tern (LC), Sooty Gull (LC), Slender-billed Gull (LC), Masked Booby (LC) and Bridled Tern (LC). Some tidal mud flats and khawr environments are feeding grounds essential to the survival of hundreds of thousands of migrating European seabirds and the fjord-like bays of Musandam are unique marine habitats. Extensive IUCN coastal surveys were undertaken between 1984 and 1992 (mostly in the Muscat area but also Musandam and Dhofar) Some work has already been undertaken to mitigate these problems: beach and underwater clean-ups and restoration of some degraded habitats.
Key threats to seabirds in Oman include:
o Oil pollution
o Overfishing and bycatch
o Conversion of coastal habitats, especially those which have been identified in the National Tourism Master Plan as one of the priorities for tourism development
o Invasive species
o Pollution from lost fishing gear, litter and plastics
o Egg collecting and adult harvesting, particularly on Daymaniyat Islands
o Military target practice in some areas
o Input marine IBAs to marine spatial planning exercises, particularly in relation to development of beaches and other coastal environments used by seabirds
o Undertaking tracking studies on Socotra cormorant and Jouanin's petrel to understand distribution and determine key at sea feeding area
o Monitor effects of fisheries bycatch and discards, particularly in northern Dhofar, Sahil al Jazir, and Madrakah)
o Monitor egg-collecting and develop plans for sustainable harvest
o Need to enforce/control illegal discharge of oil from ships
o Seabird surveys of Sawadi island, Quoin island in Strait of Hormuz and for breeding colonies of Jouanin's petrel in Thamarit in the desert north of Salalah
o Assess reasons for red-billed tropicbird decline, likely disturbance related
o Better cooperation with other West Indian Ocean countries on biosecurity to tackle the threat of invasive species
o Develop research into the economic value of marine ecosystem services in the West Indian Ocean.
o Surveys for breeding colonies of Jouanin's Petrel in Thamarit (in the desert north of Salalah)
o Determine whether Barr al Hikman (perhaps including waters to masirah) may be worthy of world heritage listing
Government's support/relevant policy
The IUCN Coastal Zone Management framework was approved in 1991 and has already identified the policy needs for the country. Some major MPAs have already been designated which coincide with marine IBAs. Please see policy tab for list of agreements that this country is party to.
Petrels and shearwaters
Gulls and terns
Ducks, geese and swans
Salm R.V., RAC Jensen and VA Papastravou (1993) Marine fauna of oman: cetaceans, turtles, seabirds and shallow water corals. A marine conservation development report. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.
BirdLife International (2014) Country profile: Oman. Available from: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/country/oman. Checked: 2014-10-24