Scott Thomas Erich

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

New York, Graduate Center, City U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10109

Approve Date

April 8, 2021

Project Title

Erich, Scott (New York, Graduate Center, City U. of) "Economic Change and Fisheries Governance in the Gulf of Oman"

This project examines fisheries governance in the Omani ports of Muscat and Dibba. As the Omani government faces dwindling oil reserves – the historical backbone of its economy – it is advancing policies toward an “ocean economy,” which in part aims to have fish contribute to the country’s GDP. In order to prevent fish from running out like oil, however, a number of governing practices are forming, aimed at regulating the thousands of fishers being told to ramp up production while remaining stewards of the ocean. This project closely examines two institutions – “code of the sea” (sunan al-baḥar) councils and fishermen’s associations (jamā‘īat al-ṣaydan) – to understand the tensions associated with increasing fish extraction under overlapping local, national and international forms of governance. It asks: How are the ocean and its living natural resources being conceptualized and governed by these two institutions? How do Omani fisherfolk accommodate or subvert regulations beyond the local, and what are the economic, environmental and geopolitical factors they consider when doing so? Finally, how do fisherfolk view ownership over the sea as “property,” and in particular, what informs the question of who, other than God, can possibly “own” the contents of the ocean?