The basic act regulating inland fisheries is the Protection and Conservation of Fish Act (1950), as amended by the Protection and Conservation (Amendment) Ordinance (1982) and implemented by the Protection and Conservation of Fish Rules (1985). The Marine Fisheries Ordinance (1983), as implemented by the Marine Fisheries Rules (1983), is the basic act regulating marine fisheries. Although the basic fisheries legislation does not have separate sections on aquaculture, some of its provisions are relevant to the subject. The Protection and Conservation of Fish Rules, for instance, specifically deal with the protection of certain carp species, prohibit certain activities to facilitate their augmentation and production and stipulate that licenses for their catch shall only be issued for purposes of aquaculture. In Bangladesh, seeding is traditionally by wild post larval and juvenile shrimps, or fish fry, which are trapped in ponds during tidal exchanges or which are gathered from the estuaries in the vicinity and used to stock the ponds. In recognition of the fact that fry collection from nature may result in long term ecological destruction, in 2000 the government - reportedly - prohibited the collection of fry or post larvae of fish, shrimp and prawns of any kind, in any form and in any way in estuary and coastal waters.
Other legislation that is relevant to aquaculture includes the Tanks Improvement Act (1939), which provides for the improvement of tanks for irrigation and aquaculture purposes. The Shrimp Culture Users Tax Ordinance (1992) stipulates that shrimp cultivation areas developed by the government by construction of embankments, excavation of canals or other water management structures shall be liable to payment of tax. In addition to these laws, aquaculture, and the conditions of its development, are affected by a variety of other laws, such as land laws, water laws and environmental regulations.
The Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock (MoFL), through its Department of Fisheries (D0F), has overall responsibility for fisheries and aquaculture development, management and conservation. Its functions, which are both regulatory and development oriented, are defined in Schedule 1 of the Rules of Business (1975) and include, inter alia, the preparation of schemes and the coordination of national policy in respect of fisheries, the prevention of fish disease, the conservation, management and development of fisheries resources, the management of fish farms and training and collection of information. The activities of DoF are supported by the Bangladesh Fisheries Research Institute (BFRI), which is responsible for fisheries research and its coordination. In addition, the Bangladesh Fisheries Development Corporation (BFDC), established under the Bangladesh Fisheries Development Corporation Act (1973), supports DoF in developing the fishing industry. Functions of BFDC include, inter alia, the establishment of units for fishing and for the preservation, processing, distribution and marketing of fish and fishery products.
In 1998, a National Fisheries Policy was adopted to develop and increase fish production through optimum utilization of resources, to meet the demand for animal protein, to promote economic growth and earn foreign currency through export of fish and fishery products, to alleviate poverty by creating opportunities for self-employment and by improving socio-economic conditions of fisher folk, and to preserve environmental balance, biodiversity and improve public health. The Policy extends to all government organizations involved in fisheries and to all water bodies used for fisheries. It includes separate policies for inland closed water fish culture and for coastal shrimp and fish culture. The Policy touches on many contentious issues. For instance, it addresses conflicts over shrimp cultivation and underscores the need for formulation of suitable guidelines. To help conservation efforts, it prescribes a moratorium on further cutting of mangrove for shrimp cultivation. It also supports an integrated culture of fish, shrimp and paddy in paddy fields. In addition, the Policy deals with many other relevant issues such as quality control, industrial pollution and the use of land.
Bangladesh is divided into six Administrative Divisions. Each Division is placed under a Divisional Commissioner and is further subdivided into Districts with a District Commissioner as the chief administrator. Below the district level there are Thanas, which is the fourth layer of government administration in the country. The Additional Commissioners in charge of Revenue in the Administrative Divisions, the Additional Deputy Commissioners in charge of Revenue in the Administrative Districts and the Assistant Commissioners of Land in the Thanas perform functions relating to the management of land. Appeals against the decisions of the Commissioners are heard in the Land Appeal Board, established under the Land Appeal Board Act (1989). In addition, the Land Reform Board, established under the Land Reform Board Act (1989), supervises the functioning of land administration offices and the implementation of land reform measures. Both entities are under the administrative control of MoL.
Government ownership of water bodies generally falls into two categories: open access waters and closed access waters. All water bodies that have a continuous flow of water throughout the year are managed as open access resources. The government collects no revenue from these and anyone may use them. All other water bodies, i.e. those that are only seasonally connected to rivers and canals are available for lease-hold and known as closed access waters. Generally, leases are issued for 3 year periods for the purpose of aquaculture. The lease is given to the highest bidder after an auction process.
The Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR) is responsible for integrated water resource management. The National Water Resources Council (NWRC), headed by the Minister of Water Resources, is the highest national body relating to the water sector. NWRC will coordinate all water resources management activities in the country and particularly formulate policy on different aspects of water resources management, provide directions for optimal development and utilization of water resources, oversee the preparation and implementation of the National Water Management Plan, provide directions on the development of institutions in the water sector, provide policy directives for appropriate coordination among different agencies and look after any other matter that may require its attention.
MoWR is assisted in its tasks by several agencies under its administrative control. The Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB), established under the Bangladesh Water and Power Development Boards Order (1972) has principal responsibility for flood control, drainage and irrigation through the execution of projects. The main functions of BWDB have been further enumerated under the Bangladesh Water Development Board Act (2000) and include, inter alia, the construction of dams, barrages, reservoirs, embankments, regulators and other structures for the development of rivers. They also include flood control, drainage, surface irrigation and drought prevention, the dredging of water channels and the removal of obstacles from the mouths of rivers as well as the development of forestry and fisheries on land available around BWDB's infrastructures, in conjunction with relevant government agencies. In addition, the Water Resources Planning Organization (WARPO), established under the Water Resources Planning Act (1992), is the exclusive government institution for nationwide macro-level water resource planning and management. Among others, it acts as the Executive Secretariat of NWRC and as a "clearing house" for all water sector projects.
In 1999, a National Water Policy was adopted, which has strengthened the role and responsibilities of BWDB and WARPO. Among others, the Policy stipulates that fisheries will receive due emphasis in water resources planning when the anticipated social impact is high, attempts will be made to keep the impact on natural aquatic environment to a minimum, state owned swamps and marshes that are important for fish, waterfowl and other wild life will not be drained, water bodies will be reserved for fish production and development to the extent possible, perennial links of these water bodies with rivers will be properly maintained, water resources projects will not interrupt fish movement and adequate provisions in controlled structures will be made to allow fish migration and breeding, and brackish aquaculture will be confined to specific zones designated by the government for this purpose.
The act has been implemented by the Environment Conservation Rules (1997), according to which all new industries and projects must apply for an Environmental Clearance Certificate. Industries are classified according to their potential impact on the environment into four categories - Green, Orange-A, Orange-B, and Red. Green industries are automatically granted a certificate. Orange categories must submit considerable further information and plans, and may be subject to field inspection. The highly polluting categories Orange-B and Red must in addition conduct a detailed EIA and prepare environmental management plans satisfactory to DoE. Schedule 1 of the Rules provides the category classification of most common industries but does not include aquaculture projects. The processing of fish, prawns and shrimps is categorized under Orange-B.
The Environment Court Act (2000) institutes an Environment Court and an Environment Appeal Court and establishes enforcement powers and jurisdiction over environmental proceedings. The act vests the responsibility of investigation of environmental offences in DoE.
In 1992, the government adopted a National Environment Policy for the protection, conservation and development of the environment and to ensure maintenance of environmental quality in all development activities. The fisheries objectives in the National Environmental Policy (1992) are to ensure an appropriate environment for the conservation and development of fisheries, to prevent activities, which diminish the wetlands/natural habitats of fish and encourage rehabilitative measures in this area, to ensure that development activities in fisheries do not create any adverse impact on the mangrove forests and other ecosystems, to evaluate existing projects on water resources development, flood control and irrigation to determine their adverse impact on fisheries and to adopt measures for alternate fish culture upon improvement of environmental conditions.
Generally, the Protection and Conservation of Fish Act empowers the government to make rules that prohibit the destruction of fish by poisoning the water or the depletion of fisheries by pollution, effluents or otherwise. In addition, the Marine Fisheries Ordinance considers the discharge and deposit of waste or any other polluting matter in marine reserves (that may be established under the ordinance) an offence.
The Board of Investment (BOI) is the principal private investment promotion and facilitation agency of Bangladesh. The frozen food industry, including the sub-sectors of hatcheries, sustainable aquaculture technology and feed meal plants, is indicated as a specific area for potential investment. The Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (BEPZA) is the official government body to promote, attract and facilitate foreign investment in Export Processing Zones. The Foreign Private Investment (Promotion and Protection) Act (1980)ensures legal protection to foreign investment in Bangladesh.
Allocation of functions to the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock (Schedule 1 of the Rules of Business, 1975)
Bangladesh Water Development Board Act (2000). (Copy not available)
Fish and Fish Product (Inspection and Quality Control) Rules (1997). (Copy not available)
Foreign Private Investment (Promotion and Protection) Act (1980). (Copy not available)
Atm Shamsul Huda. 2001. Final Report on Institutional Review of Selected Ministries and Agencies, PDO PDO-ICZM Paper No. 08
Daily Star. Shrimp fry collection continues defying existing law (June8,2003)
FAO/NACA. 1995. Regional Study and Workshop on the Environmental Assessment and Management of Aquaculture Development (TCP/RAS/2253). NACA Environment and Aquaculture Development Series No. 1, Bangkok, Thailand (Annex II-1)
Howarth, W., Hernandez, A.R. & Van Houtte, A. 2001. Legislation Governing Shrimp Aquaculture: Legal Issues, National Experiences and Options. FAO Legal Paper Online No. 18
Parveen, S. & Faisal, I.M. Open-water Fisheries in Bangladesh: A Critical Review
UNEP, Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land Based Activities, A Comparative Review of Coastal Legislation in South Asia (May2003)