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Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nationsfor a world without hunger
  1. Profile
    1. Basic legislation
    2. Legal definition
    3. Guidelines and codes of conduct
    4. International arrangements
  2. Planning
    1. Authorization system
    2. Access to land and water
    3. EIA
  3. Operation
    1. Water and wastewater
    2. Fish movement
    3. Disease control
    4. Drugs
    5. Feed
  4. Food safety
    1. Miscellaneous
      1. References
        1. Legislation
        2. Related resources
      2. Related links
        Basic legislation
        There is no individual law or regulations that control aquaculture, per se, in the Republic of the Gambia. Aquaculture law is included as part of other Gambian law, in individual chapters or as cross-referenced requirements included with general laws, particularly those controlling fisheries and the environment.

        In Gambia, legislation creates boards and committees to set the country’s environmental standards for such things as allowable chemical residue in water and airborne pollutants. Published standards are difficult to find and for the most part are set according to the terms and conditions of individual aquaculture licenses issued. As such, licensing is mandatory in Gambian aquaculture.

        The Fisheries Act, 2007 is the current piece of legislation governing the most significant aspects of fisheries and aquaculture activities. This Act repeals the former Fisheries Act from 1991.

        Section X of the Fisheries Act is solely dedicated to aquaculture. Sections 46-57 cover: licensing; research; leasing public lands; conferring exclusive rights; introducing new species; protecting the aquatic ecosystem; importing live fish for aquaculture; transferring aquaculture products; reporting disease; prohibitions; and, restoring the environment.

        Since regulations control specific aspects of implementing legislation, in the Gambia, the Fisheries Regulations (“Fisheries Regulations”), 1995 control aquaculture activity in more detail and address conservation measures, fish export and specific licensing requirements. The substantive provisions of the 1995 Regulations have been incorporated into the Fisheries Act. Although the 2007 regulations for fisheries products were approved in 2010, the finalized text is not available.

        The stated goal of the Fisheries Act is to provide for the conservation, management, sustainable utilization and development of fisheries and aquaculture in the waters and in the territory of The Gambia, and for matters connected thereto (preamble).

        The Secretary of State is administrator of the Fisheries Act. The Public Service Commission appoints a Director for fisheries and aquaculture. The Director reports to the Secretary of State and may give written authorization to other fisheries officers to exercise powers conferred in the Fisheries Act. (Part II, Administration).

        Under the Fisheries Act, the Director is given express control over the following aquaculture activities: collecting statistics; management and development; issuance, suspension and cancellation of licenses or other authorisations; establishing or promoting Community Fisheries Centers, cooperatives and similar entities that represent fish processors or aquaculture producers; promoting scientific research and appropriate conservation and management technologies; and, developing domestic and foreign markets for fish products. The Director drafts the plans for management and development of aquaculture and may establish management committees for each plan.

        The Fisheries Act establishes a Fisheries Advisory Committee (the “Committee”), which includes a representative from the aquaculture sector, and representatives from the environmental and maritime sectors and a representative of the Navy. The Committee advises the Secretary of State on aquaculture policy. The Secretary of State supervises the Director in implementing specific aquaculture measures and policies.

        The Permanent Secretary of the Department of State presides over the Committee and the Director is its Secretary. The Committee advises the Secretary of State on fisheries and aquaculture policy, amendments to law or regulations, management and development plans and other general matters (Fisheries Act, Part III, 5-6).

        The National Environment Management Act of 1994 (the “Environment Act”) is cross-referenced in the introduction to the Fisheries Act, and controls some environmental conservation aspects of aquaculture, particularly regarding environmental assessments. Environmental impact assessments (“EIA”) and feasibility studies are required for all aquaculture operations. Environmental impact assessments evaluate possible negative and positive effects of a proposed project, and include social and economic and environmental components.

        The Environment Act is largely enforced through the Environmental Quality Standards Regulations, 1999 (“Environmental Regulations”) and its Environment Quality Standards Board, explained below.
        Legal definition
        The Fisheries Act defines Aquaculture as the cultivation, breeding, farming, propagation, raising and ranching of fish and aquatic plants in The Gambia and in the fisheries waters.

        An “Aquaculture establishment” refers to any site and equipment where aquaculture is conducted. An “Aquaculture product” means a fish or its parts, or an aquatic plant that is cultivated, bred, farmed, propagated, raised or ranched within an aquaculture establishment in The Gambia or in the fisheries waters.

        “Fish processing establishment” refers to a place where: a) fish or aquaculture products are packaged, canned, filleted, smoked, dried, gutted, salted, pickled, iced, chilled, frozen or otherwise processed for sale in and outside The Gambia; or, b) fish or aquaculture products are stored or processed for sale in and outside The Gambia. “Fishery product” means any fish or aquaculture product that has been canned, smoked, dried, gutted, salted, iced, chilled, frozen or otherwise processed (Fisheries Act, I.2).
        Guidelines and codes of conduct
        The Gambia’s government states its goals for aquaculture as: conservation, management and development that ensure sustainable utilization of aquatic living resources; mitigating adverse effects on the aquatic environment; and, conserving biodiversity. The Fisheries Act prescribes a precautionary approach to aquaculture conservation, management and development that is safe, cost-effective, soundly managed and uses the best available scientific information.

        Those engaging in aquaculture are required to collect and share industry data, information and research in a timely manner. Conservation and management measures are implemented and enforced through monitoring, control and surveillance. Widespread participation and overall accountability are emphasized for aquaculture conservation, management and sustainable development. In any case, measures taken must facilitate implementation of relevant international agreements to which The Gambia is a party or has consented to be bound (Fisheries Act, IV).
        International arrangements
        The Republic of the Gambia is signatory to the following international treaties and conventions:
        • United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.
        • The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol.
        • The Convention on Biological Diversity .
        • The Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna.
        • The Basel Convention on the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal.
        • The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
        • The Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer.
        • The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands .
        The Republic of The Gambia is a member of:
        • The African, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States (ACP).
        • The African Development Bank Group (AfDB).
        • The African Union (AU).
        • The African Union/United Nations Hybrid operation in Darfur (UNAMID).
        • The Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (ABEDA).
        • The Commonwealth of Nations.
        • The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
        • The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
        • The Group of 77 (G77).
        • The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD).
        • The International Development Association (IDA).
        • The International Finance Corporation (IFC).
        • The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
        • The International Maritime Organization (IMO).
        • The International Monetary Fund (IMF).
        • The Islamic Development Bank (IDB).
        • The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
        • The United Nations (UN).
        • The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
        • The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
        • The World Customs Organization (WCO).
        • The World Health Organization (WHO).
        • The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
        • The World Trade Organization (WTO).
        The Gambia is located entirely within the Gambia River Basin. It holds 13 percent of this area and signed several international agreements and conventions regarding this Basin with Senegal (77.5 percent of the basin area), Guinea (9 percent) and Guinea-Bissau (0.5 percent):
        • The Agreement for the integrated development of the Gambia River Basin (1968).
        • The Convention creating the coordinating committee of the River Gambia (1976).
        • The Convention relating to the status of the River Gambia (1978).
        • The Convention relating to the creation of the Gambia River Basin development organization (1978).
        Authorization system
        All aquaculture activity requires licensing in The Gambia. The Director issues licenses, and the Secretary of State approves them (Fisheries Act, X.46).

        Since aquaculture requires an EIA, license applicants must prove environmental clearance under the Environment Act. This same requirement applies to applicants seeking permission to engage in aquaculture research or exploration of the biological sustainability of an aquaculture technique. In both licensing procedures, the applicant must also show that all laws of The Gambia are followed, particularly related to land and water use and environmental protection (Fisheries Act, X.47).

        Under the Fisheries Act, a person engaged in any act requiring a license – including aquaculture - must provide the Director information requested and in the form requested, including: processing, sales, import, export, purchases and other related transactions. Penalties for non-compliance are a fine, and if the fine is not paid, then imprisonment.

        The Secretary of State has discretion to publish an Order in the Gazette that exempts certain classes of aquaculture from the licensing requirements above (Fisheries Act, X.46).

        Failure to operate an aquaculture establishment within the confines of the license conditions and failure to obtain a license for aquaculture research or exploration of biological sustainability are both punishable either with imprisonment and payment of a fine, or both (Fisheries Act, X 46-47).

        An aquaculture license is subject to conditions on its face, which may include terms regarding the establishment, construction and controls over its sanitary conditions and safety and quality control of establishment products. License terms may also name the species to be cultured and fish disease prevention and actions concerning escapees from the establishment. (Fisheries Act, X.50).

        The Director prepares and continually reviews plans for the management and development of aquaculture, and the Secretary of State approves these plans. The content of an aquaculture management and development plan shall specify the management and development objectives and measures for the aquaculture activity.

        Plans must also indicate the current aquaculture exploitation and identify areas for further development, include statistical information required in the aquaculture industry and how the information was gathered. Aquaculture plans must generally address any other issues necessary to properly manage and develop the establishment (Fisheries Act, X.12).

        A fisheries or aquaculture licensee has a regular reporting obligations to the proper authorities: processing, sales, import, export, purchases and other related transactions. Reports must be in proper form and include any informational updates. (Fisheries Act, XVII 103-104).

        Access to land and water
        Gambian law affecting access to land and water for aquaculture is found in the Environment Act.The Fisheries Law and Regulations refer to the Environment Act regarding access to land and water for aquaculture operations.

        The Environment Act establishes the National Environment Agency (the “Agency”), which determines and controls coastal zones, rivers and other wetlands. The Agency has exclusive jurisdiction over these areas, unless it cedes control expressly and in writing, or unless another Gambian law expressly exerts control over coastal zones, rivers and wetlands. (Environment Act, IX and VII.30).

        The Agency requires written permission to do the following actions that might affect aquaculture in coastal zones, rivers or other wetlands: introduce any plant, animal or micro-organism, whether or not native; construct, extend or demolish structures over the sea bed; deposit or dump substances that might adversely affect the environment; divert a river or lagoon; drain any river, lagoon or wetland (Environment Act, VII.30).

        Part III of the Act creates the National Environment Management Council (the “Council”), chaired by the President. The Agency Executive Director serves as Council Secretary. The Council consists of the Ministers of various areas involved in environmental management, such as natural resources, agriculture and local government and lands (Environment Act, III.6).

        The Council may make regulations and guidelines to manage the environment of the coastal zone, rivers or other wetlands, and explicitly provide for the following that might affect aquaculture: developing an overall management plan of the coastal zone that considers various sector interests; measures to control coastal erosion; conserving mangrove ecosystems; managing freshwater wetlands; containing salt water intrusion into rivers, aquifers and agricultural lands; and, exploitation of the offshore areas, including the continental shelf, the territorial sea and the exclusive economic zone.

        Aquaculture activity might be affected if the Council declares coastal, river or wetland zones as protected and excludes or restricts human activities in the protected areas that might degrade the area ecologically, culturally or aesthetically. (Environment Act, VII.30).

        The Council establishes regulations that prohibit the discharge of materials, substances and oil into the environment. If such pollution occurs, then the polluter pays the cost of cleanup and fines or might be imprisoned. To limit or to clean up pollution, the Agency has the right to seize, dispose of or otherwise use polluter assets, if it does so in “good faith” (Environment Act, Part VIII).

        Environmental Inspectors (“Inspectors”) are appointed by notification in the Official Gazette. They have specific powers and duties under the law and. follow specific procedures to: sample and analyze samples during inspection; select analysts; certify analysis results; and to keep inspection records (Environment Act, Part IX).

        The Secretary of State responsible for lands determines which lands are suitable for setting up and operating aquaculture facilities (Fisheries Act, X.48).

        A license holder for an aquaculture facilities has exclusive rights to farm and harvest the products of the establishment within the area defined in the license. Penalty for failure to do so is a fine or imprisonment or both (Fisheries Act, X.49).
        Aquaculture licensing and activity requires an EIA and clearance of this EIA under the Environment Act, as explained, supra (Fisheries Act, X 46-47). EIA content and form requirements are clearly defined (Environment Act, Part V), as are circumstances when an EIA is required is also described under the law (Environment Act, Part A, Schedule A).

        EIAs are required for licensing in aquaculture projects that involve some activities specifically mentioned in the law. Such activities might be diverting river and water, disposing of solid waste, or introducing alien flora or fauna into ecosystems. For aquaculture an EIA is required should the projects be a so-called “especially large-scale commercial project”. Fish processing plants also require an EIA. A complete list of activities requiring EIAs before licensing is provided (Environment Act, Part A, Schedule A).

        A developer of a project involving Schedule A activity must submit to the National Environment Agency (“the Agency”) a project brief describing: the nature of the project; activities to be undertaken and its possible products and by-products; the physical area affected; and, the number of people the project will employ (Environment Act, Part V.22).

        If the Agency determines the project will not have an adverse impact on the environment, at this point, it may approve the project without further EIA requirements. In making this determination, it consults with the department of the government involved in the project - for aquaculture, the Director of Fisheries (Environment Act, Part V.22).

        At this stage, if upon reviewing the project brief, the Agency determines the project might have significant impact on the environment, it requires that an environmental impact study be performed. Once this study is performed, then the developer must submit an environmental impact statement (“Statement”) to the Agency, according to guidelines the Agency defines and those defined in the Environment Act (Environment Act, Part V.23).

        The Environment Act lists the following as required in an environmental impact statement:
        • The proposed activity or project and activities it will generate.
        • Its direct, indirect, cumulative, short and long term effects.
        • Technology or processes to be used.
        • The potentially affected area.
        • Information to identify and assess the environmental effects of the proposed activity.
        • Reasons for selecting the site and for rejecting other sites.
        • Identification and description of measures to eliminate or minimize anticipated adverse impacts.
        • Description of how the study information was gathered and gaps in knowledge and uncertainties found while performing the study.
        • Any potential environmental effects beyond national borders, alternatives and mitigating measures (Environment Act, Part V23) .
        The Statement is open for public comments and the comments of those most likely to be affected by the project, possibly including a public hearing. The Agency then decides whether to approve the project, require redesigning, reject it or take any other measures, at its discretion. Regarding the timeframe to make a final determination in these procedures, the Act states that the Agency must perform within a “reasonable time” (Environment Act, V.24).
        Water and wastewater
        Issues surrounding water quality and the discharge of wastewater are significant in aquaculture operations. These topics are not part of the Fisheries Act, and are legislated under the Environment Act, which defines waste as including liquid or solids, discharged or emitted into the environment in sufficient volume to adversely affect the environment. Water includes drinking water and that in rivers, streams, reservoirs, wells, dams, canals, channels, lake, swamp or underground. The Environment Agency establishes criteria and measurement of environmental quality in general, and particularly the quality of drinking water, of water used in industry and agriculture, in fisheries and wildlife and for recreational purposes (Environment Act, Part I).

        The Environment Act, other applicable laws, and the terms of an aquaculture license require any aquaculture establishment to take necessary measures to avoid pollution of the aquatic habitat and ecosystem. Such measures include lessening the potential harmful impacts of solid or liquid waste from the aquaculture establishment (Fisheries Act, X.52).

        The Environmental Regulations (“Regulations) establishes the Environment Quality Standards Board (“Board”) to propose and review environmental quality standards to the Environment Council and to carry out functions the Council might delegate to it. The Agency Executive Director chairs Board. The Regulations set specific, scientific standards and provide detailed enforcement procedures for provisions of the Environment Act (Environmental Regulations, Part I.2).

        The Regulations set quality standards for ambient air, saline waters, surface fresh waters and groundwater (Schedule I), and set parameters for water quality monitoring (Schedule II). The Environment Agency ensures that standards are maintained within the stated parameters and enforces these standards.

        Environmental monitoring is essentially laboratory or other types of scientific analysis. The results are only made public for a fee. A summary of the environmental monitoring results is provided in the National State of the Environment Report.

        The first State of the Environment (SOE) report of the Gambia (SOE-TG) was published in 1997. The second was published in February, 2010.
        Fish movement
        Aquaculture at times involves development and breeding of new species, or the introduction of non-native aquatic flora and fauna. Should an aquaculture operation wish to engage in such activity, it must have the Director’s prior, written approval for new species to be introduced into The Gambia or into its fisheries waters. Permission to do so requires proof that the new species will not alter or cause any harm to other aquatic living resources, their habitats and the related aquatic ecosystems (Fisheries Act, 2007, X.51).

        The Director must also give prior, written approval to import live fish for aquaculture, and sets the conditions for doing so. Before or after importation, the Director or his delegate may inspect live fish and, if necessary, hold, quarantine, disinfect or destroy imported live fish. Transferring any living aquatic organism from one aquaculture establishment to another within The Gambia also requires written permission. It is a punishable offense if the activities described above are performed without the Director’s written permission. It is also an offense to release diseased or infected organisms from the aquaculture establishment into the natural environment (Fisheries Act, X.53-54).

        It is prohibited in The Gambia to sell, trade or to have the intent to sell or trade infected aquaculture organisms or using any input or production method known to render aquaculture products unsuitable for human consumption. Perpetrators of any of the above actions may be punished with a fine, imprisonment or both (Fisheries Act, 2007 X.53-56).
        Disease control
        Aquatic license holders must report immediately to the Director and immediately comply with his instructions to mitigate the spread of any disease. Also required is the reporting of observed infected aquatic organisms or unusually high mortalities in the aquaculture establishment. Required measures might include the destruction of aquaculture products and the disinfection of the establishments (Fisheries Act, 2007, X.55).

        Holders of an aquaculture license whom the Director determines has caused harm to the aquatic environment through failure to comply with the Fisheries Act X (concerning aquaculture), or with Environment Act provisions related to aquaculture, or any other law affecting aquaculture, is liable for expenses to rectify such harm and might be assessed fines or imprisoned (Fisheries Act, X.57).
        The Republic of the Gambia is bound by its international agreements and organizational memberships regarding restrictions on the use of chemicals and veterinary drugs. Gambian law does not specifically address restrictions on the use of chemicals and veterinary drugs in aquaculture.
        The Republic of the Gambia is bound by its international agreements and organizational memberships regarding restrictions on feed used in aquaculture. Gambian law does not specifically address restrictions on the use of feed in aquaculture.
        Food safety
        The Director issues licenses to operate fish-processing establishments, subject to the approval of the Secretary of State. The Fisheries Act controls fish processing, import and export (Fisheries Act, Part X).

        The Director will suspend a license for failure to operate a fish-processing establishment in accordance with license conditions, or contrary to safety and quality standards for fish and fishery products established under the Act or its regulations.

        Before actual suspension, the Director must provide 90 days notice and allow the license holder to remedy the license breach. The license in question will be cancelled or revoked should the breach or contravention not be remedied (Fisheries Act, XI.58).

        The Secretary of State makes regulations establishing conditions for the safety and quality standards and standard methods of analysis and testing for fish and fishery products (Fisheries Act, XI.59).
        Aquaculture investment 
        Part V of the Fisheries Act, elaborates the details of a Fisheries Development Fund for the conservation, management and development of fisheries in The Gambia. No specific reference of aquaculture is made regarding this Fund.

        No specific reference to aquaculture was found in Gambian investment legislation.
        Related resources

        faolexSearch parameters: country=GMB, Keywords=aquaculture;mariculture
        Records Returned: 4
        Title of textDate of textConsolidated dateEntry into forceCountries
        Fisheries Act, 2007 (No. 20 of 2007).2007-10-08Gambia

        Fisheries Regulations, 1995 (L. N. No. 18 of 1995).1995Gambia

        Fisheries Act, 1991 (Act No. 10 of 1991).1991-06-27Gambia

        Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Republic of Turkey and the Government of the Republic of Gambia on cooperation in the field of fisheries development and management.2017-04-28This MoU enters into force on the date of the declaration of all national legal requirements are fulfilled by both contracting governments.Turkey; Gambia

        Related links
        Country profiles: Gambia
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