2.1 Aquaculture policy
2.2 Administrative framework
2.3 Legal framework
2.4 Conclusions drawn from the synthesis
In most countries a specific aquaculture policy document does not exist and aquaculture is normally included basically in the Fishery Sector Development Policy, document. It is also mentioned in other strategic policy documents; those for Industry and Environment are the two major policy documents concerned. In the absence of specific policy, aquaculture development is mainly based on development plans elaborated by the authorities in charge for the administering the sector but without formal approval. Participatory mechanisms concerned with the definition of policy mostly comprise unofficial consultations, with three exceptions. The first is in Spain where a formal Consultative Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture has been established in Cataluña which includes representatives from the aquaculture sector. The second exception is Greece, where there is an Agricultural Policy Council (APC) operating within the Ministry of Agriculture; this is a consultative body within which representatives from the Ministry itself, scientific organisations, producers, and universities participate. The third exception is France, where there are "inter-professional committees".
In the majority of countries the Administration is centralised and policies are developed by the competent Ministries. In Israel, for example, there is a central government and ministries that define national and regional policy which are put into practice locally by regional districts. Decentralisation exists in some countries such as Bulgaria, where it has been introduced recently (December 1998). Bulgarian districts have since increased from 9 to 28. The aim of this fragmentation is to increase local (municipal) responsibilities. Other countries, such as Romania and Spain, have decentralised governments with local autonomy. In Romania the Prefects represent the Central Government and are responsible for resource administration. In Spain, the Autonomous Communities have exclusive competence in the aquaculture sector.
Fisheries and aquaculture are generally administered by a ministry concerned with agriculture. In Turkey, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA) administers husbandry, agriculture and fisheries (including aquaculture). However, authority over aquaculture is divided between MARA, the Ministry of Transportation (Department of Marine), the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Forestry, the Department of Water Works, the Ministry of Treasury and other authorities such as the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Commerce and Trade, and the Ministry, of Finance.
The most common problem concerning the administrative aspects of responsible aquaculture is administrative overlapping and interference. This problem arises from unclear regulation of the sector and a confused administrative situation. There is also a serious problem concerning the competition between resource users, particularly for the use of coastal land and sea areas (e.g. Cyprus).
2.3.1 Basic legislative climate for aquaculture
2.3.2 Specific legislation applicable to aquaculture
2.3.3 Mechanisms to control environmental impact of and on aquaculture
2.3.4 Involvement of local communities in the legislative process
2.3.5 Collaboration between governments on transboundary aquatic ecosystems
2.3.6 Codes of practice
2.3.7 Trade in aquaculture products
2.3.8 Incentives and penalties
2.3.9 Conflict resolution
Access to public land is regulated in all the countries. Some have specific legislation to cover access to public land (i.e. Croatia: Agricultural Lands Act, 1995; Cyprus: Immovable Property of the Republic Regulations). In the majority of cases, this legislation does not refer specifically to the use of land for aquaculture purposes. Some legislation (such as Croatia) refers to State land, but allows for concessions, leases and sale of land, including that which contains existing fishponds. There are countries, however, where the legislation specifically refers to aquaculture, such as Malta. In France, Decree No. 83-228 (22 March 1983) regulates the granting of authorisations for mariculture, while in Tunisia the Article 23 of the Law No. 9413 (31 January 1994) concerns authorisations for the establishment of "pêcherie fixes" (aquaculture. In Turkey, Law No. 1380 provides for the granting of licenses for aquaculture in public areas (freshwaters, sea and land).
In all countries a licensing or similar system is in place to regulate the use of freshwater. For example, the Water Works Law No. 341 in Cyprus establishes the need for a license for the use of river or reservoir water for any farm. A license is also needed in Cataluña (Spain) and Greece, while in Turkey licenses are issued by the MARA after approval by the Department of Water Works, the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, and the Ministry of Forestry, as well as local authorities. Access to marine waters is also regulated through licensing [as in Cyprus where a license is required for any intervention on the shore (Wells Law Cap. 351 and Foreshore Protection Law Cap. 69), and also for the erection of piers (the Piers Law Cap. 78)]; or concessions [as is the case in Croatia, where concessions are required from the maritime affairs departments of the coastal counties].
Concessions are also used in Malta where they are given by the Malta Development Corporation, subject to the Development permission granted by the Planning Authority. Italy and Spain have a similar system. In other countries, such as Romania, access to marine waters depends on respect for the environment (Law 137/1995 which protects the environment).
Aquaculture experts are consulted in the formulation of economic and legal instruments. However, in some cases the private sector is only indirectly involved. Some laws exist in this respect (such as Law 137/95 of the Ministry of Water, Forest and Environment Protection of Romania, which establishes that central and local authorities, NGOs, and experts from the sector can take part in the decision making process on various subjects). Most of the countries consulted have advisory committees or councils which advise government authorities in the elaboration of water management, coastal area management and other land area management legislation. Where that type of advisory committee does not exist there are similar temporary working groups or ad hoc committees. The participation of aquaculture and fisheries experts in those committees is normal practice.
In all countries from which reports were received there is either a fisheries law which includes aquaculture (i.e. Tunisia), or a separate law for aquaculture. Bulgaria has a draft Fishery and Water Act which is pending Parliamentary approval. Croatia has a Marine Fishery Act No. 46/97 which regulates mariculture, a Freshwater Fishery Act No. 16/86; 34/89, and a New Freshwater Fishery Bill awaiting adoption. In Cyprus a specific aquaculture law has been drafted and is expected to be approved soon. In Malta there are a number of regulations which affect aquaculture: environmental protection regulations, veterinary medicinal product regulations, marine vegetation license regulations, and others.
In almost all the countries in the Mediterranean region there is no difference between federal and provincial legislation. There are no considerable differences between legislation for marine and freshwater aquaculture. However, there are differences between obtaining approval for concessions on marine and freshwater aquaculture, due to the different authorities concerned. For example, to obtain a marine aquaculture license in Cyprus approval from the Council of Ministers, Department of Fisheries and Ports Authority is required, whereas for freshwater aquaculture approval is needed from the Department of Fisheries, the Town Planning Department and the Water Development Department. A similar situation pertains in Israel, where offshore marine aquaculture requires the consent of maritime authorities, the military, the Committee of Coastal Waters, the Ministry of Environment and the Department of Fisheries. For inland aquaculture in Israel, proof of land and water ownership is required, along with consent from the relevant regional council.
Most of the countries, with the exception of France and Greece, recognise that there is no clarity about the privileges and responsibilities of aquaculture producers. Morocco justifies this lack of clarity by saying that the aquaculture sector is underdeveloped. All the countries recognise conflicts amongst the various authorities which are involved and, in some cases, the conflicts within the applicable legislation. For example, in Romania conflicts between Water Law No. 107/96 and Decision No. 390 of the Government (24.07.97) was reported. These contradictions are based upon the fact that the Ministry of Food and Agriculture manages land issues and the Ministry of Water, Forestry and Environmental Protection is responsible for administering water issues. While the first ministry is responsible for the economic aspects of the fisheries, the second is responsible for the surveillance and preservation of water quality. With the exception of Israel, Bulgaria and Romania, most of the countries have regulated the procedure to issue permits. Normally there are differences between the permitting procedures for marine and freshwater aquaculture.
There are no commonalties in regard to the need for an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the establishment of an aquaculture farm. The requirement for an EIA is based in some cases on the projected production level of the aquaculture farm. In Croatia, for example, an EIA is required when farms have an projected production of more than 50 t. In Egypt, the criteria for requiring an EIA is based on the area where the farm is going to be established (Protected Area). Malta has very detailed legislation regulating EIAs, while Morocco, on the other hand, does not have precise rules controlling the necessity for new aquaculture ventures to submit an EIA.
The attitude to foreign investment in aquaculture ventures varies very considerably. For example, while only up to 49% of the investment can be foreign in Cyprus, there is no limit in Egypt, where foreign investment in aquaculture is actively encouraged.
There is no specific legislation which regulates the environmental impact either on and of aquaculture. In all the reporting countries, aquaculture is not specifically considered other than within the general safeguards applicable to productive/industrial activities.
In most countries the concept of the precautionary approach is not included in legislation, with the exception of Croatia and Greece, where the concept is included in their regulatory framework. In Turkey, the concept is mistakenly interpreted as being the prevention of a negative impact on the environment. However, in Cataluña (Spain), the precautionary approach is interpreted, as intended, in the reports prepared by the responsible environmental authority previous to the granting of an authorisation to aquafarm. In Romania, Article 3 of Law No. 137/95 applies the "polluter pays" principle. However, there is no reference to the rehabilitation (restoration of previous condition).
In most Mediterranean States it is reported that the international conventions referring to the introduction of non-indigenous species are applied and even if there is no specific legislation, the introduction of non-indigenous species and GMOs is always controlled by the competent authorities. These include those responsible for veterinary control, environmental protection, or animal production. For example, in Croatia non-indigenous species can only be introduced by competent research institutions and the introductions must be accompanied by the written consent of the State Environmental Protection Administration. The introduction of GMOs is strictly prohibited in Croatia (Livestock Husbandry Act). In Bulgaria introductions are controlled by the Zoological Institute of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. In Tunisia, specific legislation exists concerning the introduction of non-indigenous species and GMOs for aquaculture (Decree 29 August 1994).
In the Mediterranean countries very few initiatives from the private sector and NGOs to promote responsible aquaculture through seeking new or amended legislation, are described. There is a general lack of dialogue between Government authorities dealing with aquaculture and the private sector or NGOs. There are some exceptions to this rule, for example in Malta, where the private sector intervened to amend the original Fisheries Regulation of 1934 and in Croatia where the NGOs are involved in the legislative process.
Some countries (Croatia, Cyprus, Israel, Malta, Turkey) totally or partially prohibit aquaculture in protected (conservation or antiquarian) areas. In those that do not, this does not necessarily mean that aquaculture is considered as compatible with environmental conservation but rather that the relevant authorities forgot to specifically prohibit this activity. According to the reports, Aquaculture Zones (areas where aquaculture is positively encouraged and protected in legislation) only exist in three countries, namely Greece, Spain and Tunisia. In Greece, pursuant to Law No. 1650/86 on environmental protection, an area (including land and water space) has been created for the exclusive development of aquaculture activities. The Tunisian Aquaculture Plan has identified certain locations as favourable for aquaculture activities. Finally, in Cataluña (Spain) certain areas for mussel beds have been identified (Order 25 June 1975).
Generally there is little in national legislation which specifically favours the development of aquaculture in support of local communities. However, there an exception in the maritime law of Cataluña (Spain) where preference is given to fisheries associations and cooperatives when granting authorisations to carry out aquaculture activities. Greece has similar legislation. There are also very few agreements that prevent conflicts over shared resources. However, there are ad hoc agreements in Cyprus, firstly between the Fisheries Department and coastal fishermen and aquafarmers regarding the sitting of offshore farms and also between owners of land-based trout farms and agricultural farmers concerning the water supplied to fish farms and the water outflow used for in irrigation. There is no customary law applicable to aquaculture activities in the Mediterranean region, with the exception of Greece, where there are some examples which are applicable to aquaculture, such as the right to conduct amateur or commercial fishing in leased areas of lakes or coastal lagoons. Many traditionally acquired rights are not considered "customary law". Generally, the national reports noted that local communities should be more involved in the formulation of legislation on aquaculture and fisheries and also for tourism, industry and environmental preservation. In Cataluña (Spain) the local communities are consulted before legislation is enacted.
Most countries have entered into a number of agreements for the protection of transboundary aquatic ecosystems. For example, Bulgaria has entered into the Danube Fisheries Agreement, the Black Sea Fisheries
Agreement (1959), the Odessa Ministerial Declaration (1992), and the Black Sea Environmental Programme (1993), as well as participating in the new draft Convention on the Black Sea Living Resources and Fisheries. However, there are few agreements with neighbouring countries which are specifically oriented to protect the environment against irresponsible aquaculture activities or to safeguard the potential for aquaculture development against the activities of other resource users. Bulgaria has an agreement with Romania on bilateral cooperation in fisheries and aquaculture. Italy also has some agreements in this respect, such as the agreement with Yugoslavia for the protection of the Adriatic Sea and coastal zones from pollution, and with Greece regarding cooperation for the protection of the marine environment in the Ionic Sea and coastal areas (Rome 6/3/79). In the EU countries which a report has been received, the EU Directive No. 990/220/EEC on the deliberate release of GMOs into the environment has not yet been incorporated into national legislation, with the exception of Greece.
The majority of countries, with the exception of Greece (where there is an obligation for producers to provide statistical data) and Spain (where there is an obligation to share data between central administration and autonomous communities), do not foresee the obligation to establish appropriate mechanisms to collect, share and disseminate data relating to aquaculture activities in their legislation. In general, the creation of databases or other sources of information are voluntary, not mandatory.
Almost all the country reports referred to the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries as a (the) Code of Practice. Cyprus specifically refers to Codes of Practice for the introduction and transfers of marine and freshwater organisms of EIFAC/CECPI and the OIE International Aquatic Animal Health Code. Morocco additionally refers to the part of the Codex Alimentarius which refers to aquaculture products, as well as EU Directives on shellfish. A few reports noted that National Codes of Practice for Responsible Fisheries and Aquaculture are planned for the near future. For example, in Bulgaria a Code is planned which should be applicable to the whole basin of the Black Sea including the Danube, Dnepr and Dnestr rivers. In Turkey, the Code to be prepared is derived from the National Action Plan submitted to the EU in July 1998, which covers general hygiene and HACCP rules for aquaculture establishments.
The national legislation applicable to trade in aquaculture products varies considerably. Most non-EU countries of the region do not have specific legislation for aquaculture products. Morocco is an exception, with some regulations to control the commercialisation of inland aquaculture products. Non-EU countries apply the same legislation for aquaculture products as applies to fish products from the capture fisheries. For example, in Croatia, Article 19 of the Veterinary Act together with subordinated legislation, which regulates the conditions under which fish can be marketed and sold, applies. In Cyprus, the control of the quality and hygiene is covered within the Food Sale and Control Law. In the EU countries of the region (e.g. Greece, Italy, Spam), EU Directives concerning aquaculture products have been incorporated into the national legislation (such as EEC Directive 91/67, which refers to sanitary measures for aquaculture products). Some countries have incorporated HACCP procedures into their national legislation (e.g. Bulgaria and Croatia, where HACCP is clearly stipulated as a mandatory system for quality protection and control of aquaculture products). Although the majority of the countries in the Consultation are not EU members, there is a tendency either towards the direct incorporation of EU Directives concerning quality control in aquaculture products into national legislation or towards harmonisation with EU legislation. The same tendency is also observed with respect to the legislation applicable to export and import of aquaculture products.
Aquaculture producers face a number of common problems when trading their products. First, in EU countries, there is a problem of an unclear regulatory framework (e.g. Italy, which recognises that legislation should exist to ensure that aquaculture products are clearly labelled with their origin). The second limitation refers to non-EU countries which need to apply very strict conditions to enter into the EU market (e.g. 15% tariff barriers), import duties, legislation of the member countries, etc. The reports indicate a clear interest in harmonising the controls over trade in aquaculture products (e.g. in the report from Malta, which pointed out that the harmonisation will benefit consumers and would place all producers on a level playing ground).
Some countries in the Mediterranean region reported that incentives are provided to aquaculture producers. However, it is not clear (c/f section 3.4) how far such incentives specifically encourage responsible aquaculture practices. Cyprus provides subsidies on commercial bank loan interest for investment in approved aquaculture activities. In Morocco there are a number of benefits available to aquaculture producers such as tax reductions. Romania also foresees tax exemptions for those who apply ecological conservation and reconstruction measures with the aim of protecting the environment pursuant to the Article 34 of Law No. 137/96. Penalties are normally included in the legislation applicable to aquaculture and, in the majority of cases, are reported to be reasonable and having the potential to be effective. In Croatia an Environmental Protection Inspectorate was established when the Environmental Protection Act was enacted. However, the majority of countries recognise that the enforcement of penalties does not work in practice (e.g. Malta and Morocco, where there are limited human resources for enforcement).
Several of the reporting countries (e.g. Croatia, Morocco) stated that there are no specific mechanisms to settle conflicts. Some (Croatia, Egypt) reported that conflicts have not emerged. A few countries (Egypt, Malta) declared that conflicts are solved on a case by case basis. In Cyprus, conflicts are settled through consultations, personal contacts, in situ visits, establishment of ad hoc committees, exchange of letters between parties involved, and lobbying. In Cataluña (Spain), three measures have been established to settle conflicts. The first is a preventative measure (before authorisation for the aquaculture farm is granted, people affected by the activity are informed). The second is to notify the relevant administration about any problem which may arise. The third is the participation of fisheries and aquaculture associations in the Consultative Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture.
A number of improvements in the policies and administrative framework affecting aquaculture in the Mediterranean region. There is a common lack of clarity in the regulations. In most countries there is no official national policy document for aquaculture, merely pragmatic plans elaborated by the authorities in charge of the sector administration which do not have official approval. Most countries need to define a clear policy document for aquaculture, which includes participatory mechanisms through official consultations. The lack of clear regulations is the major cause of the overlapping administrative problems.
With respect to the legal environment for aquaculture, in all countries there are clear regulations for the use of land and water, but they do not normally include their use for aquaculture purposes. The private sector and NGOs need to be more involved in the formulation of economic and legal instruments concerning aquaculture. There is a need for precise legislation establishing the privileges and responsibilities of aquaculture producers. Legislation should also regulate the environmental impact on and of aquaculture as well as the development of aquaculture in support of local communities. Cooperation between neighbouring countries in order to protect transboundary ecosystems should be increased through consultations. There is a clear tendency in the reporting countries to either incorporate the EU Directives concerning quality control in aquaculture products into their national legislation, or to harmonise their legislation in conformity with EU Directives. In this regard, cooperation between EU and non-EU countries in the region should be increased to assist in legislative harmonisation. The system for enforcing penalties should be improved in most of the reporting countries and a clear procedure for conflict resolution should be included in the legislation.