Focus on harnessing blue economy’s potential


Proposed marine fisheries act

Focus on harnessing blue economy’s potential

 DOULOT AKTER MALA | The Financial Express February 07, 2020

Representational image

The proposed marine fisheries act has focused on the blue economy with incorporating a number of issues including mariculture.

Its new provision will also empower the government to check illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing vessels, both local and foreign, in the country’s territorial waters.

The Marine Fisheries Bill-2020 was placed before parliament on January 29 this year. The new Marine Fisheries Act-2020 will replace “Marine Fisheries Ordnance-1983.”

With new IUU provision, the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock will be empowered to monitor, control and oversee maximum sustainable yield, determine allowable catch and hoarding limit and carry out survey on fish resources.

Towfiqul Arif, joint secretary (blue economy) of the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock, said there was no legal provision in the existing ordinance to issue order or directives to check illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

“Incorporation of IUU and mariculture would help the country to tap the potential of blue economy,” he said.

The issues relating to the blue economy don’t exist in the current ordinance, he said.

In the third ministerial conference of Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) on the blue economy held in the city in September last, the member countries expressed their concern over some emerging threats including IUU.

Bangladesh began conducting research on oceans only after settlement of maritime disputes with India and Myanmar in 2012.

The country has won a total of 118,113-km maritime boundary.

Bangladesh has 668km sea, but the country’s fishing trawlers can fish only up to 80 km for not having sufficient big trawlers to fish in deep sea.

Under the act, construction or import of commercial trawlers would have to follow a government-prescribed specification.

However, the proposed act has imposed restrictions on entrance of foreign fishing vessels without licence, except some cases including innocent passage as per definition of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea-1982.

All mechanised fishing boats known as ‘artisanal fishing boats’ will require registration under the proposed act, Mr Arif told the FE.

The penalty for illegal fishing by foreign vessels in the Bangladesh territory has been increased to Tk 50 million from Tk 1.0 million earlier, he said.

When the President will give his nod to Bill, the government will be able to declare ‘mariculture area’ in the maritime boundary of Bangladesh.

Mariculture means cultivation of living marine resources in marine and brackish water in a closed coastal area or sea.

As per the proposed bill, renewal of fishing licences would be required after every two years instead of one year.

The proposed law will also empower mobile court to take punitive action instantly on spot, seize goods without warrants from fishing boats and premises of godown.

In case of operating vessels without milking or damaging fishing vessels, the penalty would be imposed at Tk 1.0 million with two years’ imprisonment.

However, aggrieved persons will be able to lodge appeal within 30 days of imposing penalty, denial or rejecting issuance of licence by the authorities concerned.

In case of use of restricted fishing nets or other equipment or dredging or fishing in the restricted area, there is a provision of imposition of penalty of highest Tk 2.5 million with two years’ imprisonment. The draft law was approved by the cabinet last year.

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