Since its adoption, the Fisheries Law of 1959, (Ley de Pesca, 1959, “Fisheries Law”) has been amended several times, and its enforcement principles and specific provisions updated with regulations promulgated in the last decade to make the Law more effective for current Honduran circumstances. The Fisheries Law and its respective regulations remain the foundation of Honduran aquaculture and fisheries legislation.
The General Fishery Regulations of 2001. (Reglamento General de Pesca, 2001, “Fishery Regulations”) “The Law” cited as applicable in the Fishery Regulations is the Fisheries Law (Article 4) The 2001 Regulations provide specifics on procedures and requirements on licenses and concessions for Aquaculture farming.
In Honduras, the General Directorate for Fisheries and Aquaculture (DIGEPESCA), is administrator of aquaculture, and it is part of the Secretary of Agriculture and Livestock. In accordance with the Fisheries Law and Fishery Regulations, DIGEPESCA: issues licenses and concessions; executes the national fisheries policy under supervision of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock ; and, coordinates aquaculture activity with other government agencies and private organisations.
DIGEPESCA states its mission in aquaculture as strengthening State involvement at its various stages, of cultivation, processing, storage, transportation, domestic and international sale. It uses knowledge and information to assess resource availability and to promote sustainable use with the best economic and social benefits for Honduras.
DIGEPESCA is generally responsible for policy, research, planning, management and resource allocation, promoting productive activities and enforcement and control of these activities. It engages in extension and transfer of technology, training, inter-institutional coordination, international compliance, technical assistance coordination and relations with the private sector.
“Aquaculture development” as the study, scientific research or experimentation and exploration in bodies of water that is designed to develop biotechnology or to incorporate technological innovation during any cultivation stage of aquatic flora and fauna living either partially or entirely in water, including protected species. (Fisheries Regulations, Article 5)
“Fisheries” is defined as including all tasks that directly or indirectly aim to utilise living resources in the sea and in the continental waters. “Continental waters” is the country’s rivers, lakes and other fresh waters. A “fish farm” is a location where fish or shellfish are contained in water while they are raised. (Fisheries Regulations, Article 5)
ANDAH laboratories research and test water quality and aquatic pathology as there is no public institution so engaged. Research results are publicised through the ANDAH’s Informative Bulletin, and through the Central American Aquaculture Symposium, which is held every other year.
ANDAH partially bases its code of conduct for members on results of its research. It has instituted formal, university-level studies in aquaculture, for mid-level professionals to work as technicians in fish farms or to continue university studies in aquaculture.
Honduras shares rivers and watersheds with its neighbors and 16 percent of the surface water in Honduras leaves the country by river towards El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. While there are treaties with these countries to determine geographic limits of water resources, these do not include provisions regarding shared water resources.
Aquaculture farming permits are called “aquaculture concessions” and the Fisheries Regulations lists requirements for their renewal and extension. Some concession and license holder obligations are listed, such as operating only within the area legally permitted by a concession or license. Each year during the first months of the year, fish farmers are required to submit to DIGEPESCA an update of the project methods and financial status. (Fisheries Regulations, Article 54-55)
Licenses are also required to research and develop new technologies to be used at any stage of fish cultivation, and are requested from the Secretary of Agriculture under supervision of the Minister of Agriculture. Other than the usual project descriptions, coordinates and objectives, research and development licenses must also explain: reasons for the research; the reason the particular site was chosen for this research; the cultivation and harvest methods to be used; the origin and quantity of organisms used in the research and development; sanitary provisions; and, commercial viability of the results. (Fisheries Regulations, Article 56)
License or concession holders shall comply with aquaculture sanitary standards and measures that the Secretary issues, and any others which the law might require. Aquaculture farmers have an obligation to allow and to assist the Secretary’s personnel in inspecting the facility to ensure that these obligations have been met. (Fisheries Regulations, Article 55; Aquaculture Health Regulations, Article 68)
The system controlling EIAs in Honduran agriculture, including aquaculture, is the National Environmental Impact Assessment System (Sistema Nacional de Evaluacion de Impacto Ambiental, 1994 “SINEIA” in Spanish). The accompanying regulations went into effect on 5 March 1994, and established specific requirements for obtaining an environmental license.
An environmental license is required for any project that might contaminate or degrade the environment. An environmental license is certification that the project has satisfied EIA requirements under the SINEIA.
The fees for an Environmental License are scaled according to total project value. The four categories of environmental licenses are according to the degree of impact: low, moderate or high. In the latter category, if a project is deemed “megaproject”, which tend to be energy projects, but allow for other types of very large projects, then an environmental impact study is mandatory.
The Fisheries Regulations define “protected areas or nature reserves” as those areas set aside as determined by competent authorities, with intent to guarantee the reproduction, growing and repopulation of hydro-biological resources. (Fisheries Law Article 5)
The concept of protected areas in Honduras has been long recognized, but was solidified in 1993 with the founding of the Honduran National Protected Area System (Sistema Nacional de Áreas Protegidas de Honduras, SINAPH in Spanish), National Forestry Institute (ICF). In Honduras there are 91 protected areas that cover an area of approximately 4.03 million hectares, including terrestrial, aquatic and marine coastal areas. This system was strengthened with the 1999 passing of some regulations to support it; there is one marine national park. In Honduras Protected Areas have been classified into 16 categories of management corresponding to IUCN standards
The Environmental Law is the main law regulating the permissible commercial impact on the environment and the most important on protected areas, providing a framework for their design, administration, and control.
Institutional responsibility for land is shared between the Secretary of Natural Resources and the Environment (“SERNA”) and Directorate General for Fisheries and Aquaculture (DIGEPESCA). The municipalities are responsible for conserving, safeguarding protecting, patrolling, and controlling the biological resources in their jurisdiction.
Water law in Honduras was long out-dated and overly broad to address the country’s complex water problems that are exacerbated by frequent tropical weather events. Until 2009, Honduras had been relying on its 1927 Water Law (Ley Vigente de Aprovechamiento de Aguas Nacionales, “National Water Use Law”), with the Health Code and the Potable Water and Sanitation Sector Framework Law to manage its water resources. There has historically been a lack of coordination and overlapping responsibilities among the different institutions that regulate water.
Honduras has had recent international financial and technical assistance to improve its water resources management. It passed the August, 2009 General Water Law (Ley General de Aguas, “Water Law”) and the 2003 Water Framework Law (Ley Marco Del Sector Agua Potable Y Saneamiento, “Water Law Framework”).
The Water Framework did much to improve planning, organization, management and integrated use of national water resources and it decentralises water management to the municipalities. A flaw in the 1927 law was its lack of recognition of multi-sectorial water uses, which confusingly resulted in each sector regulating its own water use.
The much more comprehensive 2009 Water Law includes 106 articles and creates a National Water Authority (Autoridad Nacional de Agua, “Water Authority”), which manages the use, development and general forms of enjoyment of water resources, including water ecosystems and their related resources, (Water Law, Article 2). It also creates an advisory and consultative body, the National Council of Water Resources (Consejo Nacional de Recursos de Aguas, “Water Council”, (Water Law, Article 8).
The Water Law states its general objectives as establishing suitable and sufficient principles and regulations for the protection, conservation, appreciation and utilisation of hydro resources and to encourage water resources management at the national level. (Water Law, Article 1)
More specifically, it states the following objectives, to establish:
Some interesting provisions that might affect aquaculture are those declaring some waters (e.g., lakes, lagoons, underground aquifers, maritime platforms) as public domain, while infrastructure to retrain or move water (e.g., wells, reservoirs and tanks) as private property, subject to the Water Law provisions. (Water Law, Article 25)
The Water Authority or Municipalities may limit water use to protect water and hydro ecosystems with their power to declare zones and establish periods of prohibited or limited water use. (Water Law, Article 40)
Municipalities provide access to water by issuing permits and licenses for artisanal and sport fishing, and for “isolated aquaculture activities not exceeding 0.06 litres per second.” This type of permit or license does not award actual property rights to the water, but rather is a type of term-limited usufruct. (Water Law, Article 67)
The Water Law provides for water concessions, issued by the Water Authority, based on the applicable public administrative laws, for activities that would not necessarily affect aquaculture or fisheries, such as hydroelectricity generation and industrial and commercial use for medium and large companies. (Water Law, Article 68)
Procedures, conditions and criteria for obtaining water licenses, permits and concessions are detailed in the Water Law, in Articles 69-73.
The Water Law also includes other provisions that might affect aquaculture: for managing water-related disasters; constructing water retention or flow infrastructure; reasons for license, permit or concession suspension or revocation; water rights planning, policies and strategies; limits on water rights that are granted; water rights registration; and creating a National Fund for Water Resources to fund conservation and other water-related projects. (Water Law, Articles 74-99)
The Environmental Law established the National Environmental Impact Assessment System (Sistema Nacional de Evaluacion de Impacto Ambiental, 1994 “SINEIA” in Spanish). SINEIA provides a mechanism to submit environmental impact assessments (“EIA”) as required by law for projects, public or private that could adversely affect the environment.
In December 2009 the Secretary of Natural Resources and the Environment (Secretaria de Recursos Naturales y Ambiente, “SERNA” in Spanish) enacted SINEIA regulatory reforms. The SINEIA Regulations now address preventative and responsible environmental activity and provide for audits of credentials and certifications, according to transparent rules.
The Environmental Law established clear procedures for the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). A significant provision of the law requires that any project which has the possibility to pollute or degrade the environment or natural or cultural areas must be preceded by an EIA. (Environmental Law, Article 5)
The aquaculture licensing procedure requires a “bio-economic study”, as mentioned, supra. Additionally, Honduran regulations list projects that require an EIA, and aquaculture and mariculture are listed as requiring an EIA, or generally, projects that affect:
Most of the SINEIA regulatory reform focused on requisites to obtain an environmental license and describes: categories of activities requiring licensing; environmental impact study procedures; how to control activities that might adversely affect the environment; and, incentives for judicious environmental activity.
Any project involving hydroelectricity, irrigation, or other large-scale water use, be it sub-teranean or surface, within the national territory, must first provide a plan for hydrolic management and an environmental impact assessment. The authorities in charge of water management will coordinate hydrological projects to support water protection and control, to prevent dredging and protect reservoirs, levees, agricultural land, settlements and water travel. The authorities’ water oversight treats all watersheds as one unit for operation and control purposes. (Environmental Law, Article 34)
The State, through the Secretary of State for Public Health, in cooperation with the Secretary of Sate for the Environment, oversees compliance with general environmental law regarding basic sanitation and water contamination The Executive Branch (El Poder Ejecutivo) sets permissible contamination levels as estimated through testing, in compliance with international norms. (Environmental Law, Article 74-76)
The use and enjoyment of marine and coastal resources are subject to technical criteria that the Executive Branch sets with the Secretary of State for Natural Resources. This includes setting seasonal prohibitions on fishing or harvesting certain aquatic species and criteria for repopulation of marine life. These same authorities also may set protected marine and coastal zones that are subject to management plans that prevent environmental pollution and degradation. (Environmental Law, Articles 55-57)
Regarding coastal-marine resources, the Fisheries Law also establishes strict regulations about the types of activities that can be carried out in the coastal areas. In practice, these restrictions are rarely enforced as environmental violations. (“Environmental Policy Analysis: Report on Honduran Environmental Laws and their Real or Potential Impact on the Intermediate Result "Improved Management and Conservation of Critical Watershed" and the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA)”, pg. 9)
The preamble to the Sanitary Regulations on Fisheries and Aquaculture (Reglamento de Salud Pesquera y Acuicola, “Aquaculture Health Regulations”) names SENASA and the Animal Health Department (Subdireccion Tecnica de Salud Animal) as the government authorities enforcing sanitary control during all aquaculture phases, with a goal of preventing, controlling and eradicating diseases that might affect aquaculture, and phytosanitary certification for import and export of aquaculture products.
SENASA supervises and performs health inspections involved in the raising, repopulating and exploiting of aquatic animals and their transportation and sale.
SENASA determines shipping and transportation of sanitary and other standards in aquaculture and fisheries. SENASA inspections can be scheduled or unplanned. It determines the methods to stop the spread of aquatic diseases. (Aquaculture Health Regulations, Articles 21-28).
Through the Animal Health Department, SENASA issues technical opinions and directives regarding importing aquatic flora and fauna and regulates their introduction into bodies of water with native flora and fauna. (Aquatic Health Regulations, Article 31)
Enacted in 1999, these Regulations state as their objectives the establishment of national, standard procedures for sanitary and technological inspection for fisheries and aquaculture products, for all species and wherever processed, for domestic consumption or for export. (preamble and Articles 1-2)
SENASA and the Animal Health Department, private and public entities are required to coordinate at a national level to scientifically identify and diagnose principal diseases or parasites that affect the production, processing and commerce in fisheries and aquaculture products. SENASA and the Animal Health Department should together implement regulations on aquaculture health. Article 5 states that this is to be done through a national program for aquaculture health. (Aquaculture Health Regulations, Articles 2-5)
All aquaculture companies are required to report to SENASA on the health conditions of their aquatic animals, including the appearance of new diseases. SENASA and the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture monitor commercial larvae producers to ensure that they periodically, and at their own expense, before sale, perform laboratory tests to detect virus, bacteria, parasites or microbes and the general health of their products. (Aquaculture Health Regulations, Articles 6-10)
Periodic inspection is legally mandated for aquaculture packing and processing plants to detect microbiological or chemical contamination or for pathogenic agents. It is prohibited to drain waters of any kind without sampling analysis and guarantee that such drainage will not endanger other species. If disease is discovered, then quarantine is required, as is elimination of the infected population and disinfection of the premises. (Aquaculture Health Regulations, Articles 9-12).
SENASA will periodically analyse and record information it collects, and maintains a national information system regarding aquaculture health and sanitation. SENASA is also to publish a Report on Disease Samplings (Plan de Muestreo de Enfermedades), which will describe epidemiological traits and frequency of occurrence of aquaculture diseases. SENASA and the Animal Health Department are also responsible for approving diagnostics use in analysing animal health. (Aquaculture Health Regulations, Articles 14-17).
v SENASA establishes preventative measures to stop the spread of aquatic animal diseases throughout the national territory (Aquaculture Health Regulations, Article 28) It coordinates such measures with the Animal Health Department, particularly in instances where aquaculture inputs have been used in a manner that might negatively affect human health, the environment and international commerce. (Aquaculture Health Regulations, Article 29)
When SENASA and the Animal Health Department determine that an aquaculture facility has acted in a potentially dangerous manner, it may select laboratories and exporters from outside the region to ensure future operational safety. (Aquaculture Health Regulations, Article 30)
SENASA and the Animal Health Department are responsible for determining and disseminating the existence of aquatic diseases to those who might be affected, and to supervise their control. (Aquaculture Health Regulations, Article 34; 42-43; )
SENASA supervises the operation of all entities that supply, transport, process or sell aquatic products and biological products used in aquaculture, such as chemicals, pharmaceuticals and feed, including those companies engaging in the export of such products. SENASA sets contamination levels for aquaculture products and inputs that might directly or indirectly affect processing (Aquaculture Health Regulations, Articles 18-20).
The State follows the Health Code (Código de Salud), the Sanitation Laws for Vegetation and Animals (las leyes de Sanidad Vegetal y de Sanidad Animal) to determine permission for use and manufacture, import, distribution, supply, end use and sale of agrochemicals and hazardous or dangerous substances used in agriculture, animal husbandry, industry and “other activities” , such as aquaculture. Such substances are only managed as duly authorized by the Secretary of State for Natural Resources Management (Secretaría de Estado en el Despacho de Recursos Naturales) or the Secretary of State for Public Health (Secretaría de Estado en el Despacho de Salud Pública) (Environmental Law, Article 68)
All establishments engaged in preparing, transforming, refrigerating, freezing, packaging, delivering, gathering or capturing fisheries and aquaculture products are subject to Official Inspections. All species controlled under these Regulations are listed in (Aquaculture Health Regulations, Articles 3-4).
Only establishments registered with and inspected by SENASA are permitted to sell aquaculture products domestically or to export such products. Similarly, all aquaculture products that are imported and processed at some Honduran establishments are subject to inspection and must meet SENASA standards. (Aquaculture Health Regulations, Articles 5-7).
The Regulations outline: obligations and duties of official personnel toward aquaculture establishments; and, rules for accrediting inspectors and veterinarians and lists requirements for aquaculture employees in handling aquaculture products. Aquaculture Health Regulations, Articles 9-21)
The Aquaculture Health Regulations outline procedures for aquaculture facilities to follow in requesting operational approval and standards for self-monitoring in accordance with SENASA requirements (Regimen de Aprobaciones y Sistemas de Auto Control y los Establecimientos). It lists the contents of such requests and accompanying documentation. (Aquaculture Health Regulations, Articles 21-23)
Food security procedures are specifically addressed in the Aquaculture Health Regulations , and require, inter alia, that aquaculture facilities guarantee sanitary conditions in processing of aquaculture products, according to these Regulations, and then defines these conditions and procedures. (Aquaculture Health Regulations, Articles 24-61).
SENASA inspections might occur on regular workdays, or at any time SENASA desires (regular and extraordinary inspections). (Aquaculture Health Regulations, Article 24). SENASA has the right to inspect aquaculture products at times of “justified emergency” (Article 25) and can order laboratory testing by authorities it deems suitable of its inspection findings (Article 26)
v Regulations concerning sanitary construction and maintenance requirements for aquaculture premises and equipment and facilities in general that are on land are provided in the Aquaculture Health Regulations. (Articles 62-84).
The Honduran Social Investment Fund (El Fondo Hondureño de Inversión Social, FHIS, ) channels a large proportion of the funding from national funds and donors for water projects.
Generally, a Social Investment Fund is an institution, typically in a developing country, that finances, usually in the form of grants, for small-scale public investments to assist poor and vulnerable communities. A Social Fund is technically a financing mechanism, but has come to mean the institution that runs such funding. FHIS was launched in 1990, and has evolved through various incarnations to become an entity that funds projects for marginalized urban and rural groups, to improve economic circumstances and education, to provide basic physical needs and to improve health through disease prevention and treatment with small-scale infrastructure and economic and social programmes.
FHIS is significant in Honduran society because it allows poor and marginalized stakeholders to participate actively in development planning in one of the poorest countries in the Latin American and Caribbean region.
Most shrimp farmers in Honduras are small-scale or individual efforts, and might receive FHIS funding. Small-scale tilapia fish farms would also qualify for funding from FHIS.
Besides creating the Fund, the Law on Honduran Social Investment (Ley del Fondo Hondureno de Inversion Social “FHIS Law”) describes its activities as: negotiating grants and loans with public and private entities and individuals; accepting donations; planning projects; providing technical assistance and project oversight to grantees and stakeholders. (FHIS Law, Articles 4-5)
The Fund consists of: a Supervising Administrative Council (El Consejo Superior de Administración, “Council”; an Executive Directorate (Dirección Ejecutiva, “Directorate”); and an Internal Auditing Division (La Auditoría Interna, Internal Auditing). (FHIS Law, Article 7)
Financing for the Fund is controlled according to provisions of the FHIS Law and the terms of contracts negotiated for projects and programmes (FHIS Law, Article 27).
v The FHIS Law states that the Fund is to last only through 31 December 2012. (Article 2). However, there is no evidence or law stating that the Fund has ended its activities, and in fact, it has ongoing projects in the coming year. The last half of the FHIS law consists of amendments and extensions of the Fund deadline, so presumably the Fund will continue with another such extension.
SINEIA regulatory reforms, 2009, Secretary of Natural Resources and the Environment (Segreteria de Recursos Naturales e Ambiente, “SERNA” in Spanish)
Acuerdo Nº 695/09 - Modifica el Reglamento para la inspección y certificación zoosanitaria de productos pesqueros y acuícolas
Acuerdo Nº 728/08 - Reglamento para la inspección y certificación zoosanitaria de productos pesqueros y acuícolas
Acuerdo Nº 1.081/99 - Reglamento para la inspección y certificación zoosanitaria de productos pesqueros y acuícolas
Resolución Nº 1/244/06 - Procedimiento de regularización de la tenencia de la tierra y contrato de usufructo familiar a aplicar en la zona de amortiguamiento de la Reserva del Hombre y la Biosfera del Río Plátano
Acuerdo Nº 3/09 - Regula el manejo y transporte de hidrocarburos en las aguas jurisdiccionales de Honduras
Acuerdo Nº 569/07 - Modifica el Acuerdo Nº 1.039/93, que reglamenta el título VI del Decreto Nº 31/92, Ley para la modernización y el desarrollo del sector agrícola
Acuerdo Nº 752/06 - Modifica el Acuerdo Nº 1.152/02, sobre la publicación de solicitudes de licencias ambientales
Acuerdo Nº 455/04 - Registración ambiental para aquellos proyectos que causen un mínimo impacto ambiental
Acuerdo Nº 635/03 - Criterios para determinar la categoría de ingreso de los proyectos que solicitan una autorización ambiental
Acuerdo Nº 1.085/02 - Criterios para determinar la categoría de los proyectos que solicitan una autorización ambiental
Acuerdo Nº 76/96 - Crea la Comisión Interinstitucional de Asesores Legales del Sector Ambiente y la Salud
Acuerdo Nº 1.039/93 - Reglamenta el título VI del Decreto Nº 31/92, Ley para la modernización y el desarrollo del sector agrícola
“Environmental Policy Analysis: Report on Honduran Environmental Laws and their Real or Potential Impact on the Intermediate Result "Improved Management and Conservation of Critical Watershed" and the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA)”, 23 July 2004