The marine environment covers two-thirds of Earth’ surface and inhabited by different and diverse marine organisms. While, terrestrial organisms have long been used by humans, only recently scientists and engineers start exploring marine organisms. It has been shown that these organisms are reach of unique compounds that can be used in medicine, industry and our every day’s life. Marine biotechnology is defined as any technique that uses marine organisms or their products for the benefit of mankind. Development of marine biotechnology can lead to diversification of Oman’s economy. It provides food security, creates know-how and value added products, as well as sustainable employment.
30th of October 2017, the delegation from Temasek Polytechnic, Singapore, visited Sultan Qaboos University (SQU). Temasek Polytechnic (TP) is a leading academic centre in training students for the growing aquaculture, veterinary and biomedical industries. The delegation was composed of Dr. Lee Wee, the director of the school of applied science, Dr. Diana Chan, the head of the centre of aquaculture and veterinary science, Dr. Padmanabhan Saravanan, the head of the centre of innovation for complementary health products, and Dr. Shabbir Moochhala, the head of the centre for molecular diagnostic. Earlier in 2017, the letter of understanding was signed between Sultan Qaboos University and Temasek Polytechnic. During the visit, the scientists from TP have met Deputy Vice Chancellor of Postgraduate Studies and Research, Dr. Rahma Al-Mahrooqi, and the director of the Centre of Excellence in Marine Biotechnology (CEMB), Dr. Sergey Dobretsov, as well as attended the 2nd GCC Marine Biotechnology Conference. The conference was organized by CEMB, SQU and held in Al-Faham Stage from 31st of October – 1st November 2017. The main aim of the conference was to provide a stage for marine biotechnology, aquaculture and fisheries scientists from the region and other countries in order to exchange ideas and build up new and strengthen the existing collaborations.
During the visit the questions of how to intensify the marine biotechnology projects between two institutions have been discussed. Possibilities of joint training and supervision of postgraduate students and exchange of researchers between two academic institutions have been identified. Such collaboration would open doors for new multidisciplinary research, as well as build up new and strengthen existing cooperation. Both institutions are highly interested in development of sustainable aquaculture. Aquaculture is not farming of fish, invertebrates, algae, and plants anymore but became a food production industry. It can be used not only to produce fish and nutrients, but also pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals and water treatment. Both institutions agreed to look for perspectives of co-funding, when joint projects can be supported by SQU and TP. Novel aquaculture approaches can save amount of water used, minimise the use of chemicals and production of waste and allow producing not only fish and shrimps but also agricultural crops. Vibrant aquaculture industry is not possible without strong links between the industry, fishermen, investors, legislators and policy makers. It was suggested to organize a joint meeting that will bring together researchers, policy makers, private companies and businessman. Additionally, perspectives on the possibility of establishing a joint SQU-TP aquaculture consultancy company were discussed. Such company can provide services to fishermen, ministries, aquaculture industry and contribute to research and capacity building.