India is a federal republic, subdivided into 28 states and 6 union territories. According to the Constitution, the state legislatures have the power to make laws and regulations with respect to a number of subject-matters, including water (i.e. water supplies, irrigation and canals, drainage and embankments, water storage and water power), land (i.e. rights in or over land, land tenure, transfer and alienation of agricultural land), fisheries, as well as the preservation, protection and improvement of stock and the prevention of animal disease. Although there are many laws and regulations that may be relevant to aquaculture adopted at state level, this overview only addresses those laws and regulations adopted by the central government.
At the central level, several key laws and regulations may be relevant to aquaculture. They include the century-old Indian Fisheries Act (1897), which penalizes the killing of fish by poisoning water and by using explosives, and the Environment (Protection) Act (1986), being an umbrella act containing provisions for all environment related issues. They also include the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act (1974) and the Wild Life Protection Act (1972). Essentially, as will be further discussed below, all this legislation must be read in conjunction with one another to gain a full picture of the rules that are applicable to aquaculture.
On 11 December 1996, the Indian Supreme Court handed out an historic decision with major implications for the aquaculture sector in a case regarding the setting up of shrimp farms in coastal areas. The Supreme Court - among other things - prohibited the construction/set up of shrimp culture ponds within the Coastal Regulation Zone and within 1000 meters of Chilka Lake and Pulika Lake, except traditional and improved traditional types of ponds. It also ruled that an authority should be constituted to protect the ecologically fragile coastal areas, sea shore, water front and other coastal areas and specially to deal with the situation created by the shrimp culture industry in the coastal states/union territories.
To perform the functions indicated by the Supreme Court, Notification SO 88 (E) (1997) established the Aquaculture Authority, in accordance with the Environment (Protection) Act. The Authority, to which specific responsibilities for aquaculture have been allocated, falls under the administrative control of the Ministry of Agriculture.
Recently, the Aquaculture Authority formulated Guidelines for Adopting Improved Technology for Increasing Production and Productivity in Traditional and Improved Traditional Systems of Shrimp Farming with the objective of optimising yield levels in such systems on sustainable basis. The Guidelines also aim at improving the management of shrimp aquaculture in traditional systems to ensure long-term sustainability of the farming practices and environmental security. The Guidelines can be obtained from http://aquaculture.tn.nic.in/.
In addition, as mentioned above, the Aquaculture Authority recently drafted Guidelines for Effluent Treatment System in Shrimp Farms, the objectives of which are to ensure that the discharge of shrimp farm waste water does not result in long-term increase in nutrients or suspended solids in the open waters. The integration of effluent treatment system as a part of the shrimp farm should assist the farmers to improve waste water quality and provide long-term strategies for sustainable shrimp farming in the country. The Guidelines can be obtained from http://aquaculture.tn.nic.in/.
Finally, Guidelines for the Application of the Precautionary Principle and Polluter Pays Principle in Shrimp Farming are currently under preparation.
First, those farmers who are operating traditional and improved traditional systems of aquaculture within the Coastal Regulation Zone (and within 1000 meter of Chilka Lake and Pulicat Lake) are required to apply for prior approval for adoption of improved technology for increased production and productivity. The application should be made in Form I and needs to specify the following issues:
Second, applications may be filed for the authorization/approval for aquaculture establishments/shrimp culture farms/shrimp culture ponds, other than traditional and improved traditional, which are already operating/proposed to be set up/constructed outside the Coastal Regulation Zone (and outside 1000 meter of Chilka Lake and Pulicat Lake). The application should be made in Form III and needs to specify the following issues:
The Coastal Regulation Zone Notification No. SO 114 (E) (1991), issued under the Environment (Protection) Act, defines the entire coastal stretch of seas, bays, estuaries, creeks, rivers and backwaters from the lowest low tide to highest high tide line and the coastal land within 500 m from the high tide line on the landward side as Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ). Within the CRZ the setting up of industries and the expansion of new industries is prohibited, although exemptions are granted for activities that require direct waterfront or seafront access. Among the permitted activities, hatcheries are included.
As mentioned above, on 11 December 1996 the Supreme Court ruled that the shrimp culture industry is covered by the prohibition of the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification and that no shrimp culture pond can be constructed or set up within the CRZ and within 1000 meter of Chilka Lake and Pulicat Lake (including bird sanctuaries namely Yadurapattu and Nelapattu), except traditional and improved traditional types of ponds. The Supreme Court also ruled that agricultural lands, salt pan lands, mangroves, wet lands, forest lands, land for village common purpose and the land meant for public purposes shall not be used/converted for construction of shrimp ponds.
The Coastal Regulation Zone Notification provides for the preparation of Coastal Zone Management Plans, identifying and classifying the CRZ areas, by State Coastal Zone Management Authorities. At the central level, specific responsibilities have been allocated to the National Coastal Zone Management Authority, established by Notification SO 991 (E) (1998) of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, in accordance with the Environment (Protection) Act.
The Guidelines for Sustainable Development and Management of Brackish Water Aquaculture (1995, see below), however, recommend to carry out a site selection process, which should include proper environmental impact assessment. They state that all aquaculture units above 40 ha should be subject to an EIA. State Pollution Control Boards (see below) should ensure that such an EIA be carried out by the aquaculture units. Shrimp culture units of 40 ha or more should also incorporate an Environmental Monitoring Plan and an Environmental Management Plan, which covers the following potential impacts: local watercourses, groundwater, drinking water sources, agricultural activity, soil and salinisation, waste water treatment and green belt development. Smaller farms between 10 ha and 40 ha must also provide information on these items.
Relevant provisions, though again of a general nature and not specifically related to aquaculture, can also be found in the Environment (Protection) Act. Under the Act, effluents discharged from aquaculture farms may be within the definitions of "environmental pollutant", "environmental pollution" and "hazardous substance". The Act generally prohibits any person carrying on any industry, operation or process to discharge or emit any environmental pollutants in excess of the standards as prescribed in the Schedules under the Act. The Hazardous Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules (1989, as amended) further regulates the collection, reception, treatment storage and disposal of hazardous wastes.
Recently, the Aquaculture Authority issued Guidelines on the need for Effluent Treatment System (ETS) in shrimp farms (see below). The Guidelines state that all shrimp farms of 5 ha water spread area and above locetad within the CRZ, and 10 ha water spread area and above located outside the CRZ, should set up an ETS or effluent treatment ponds/facilities. The Guidelines als refer to the need for a common ETS for clusters of shrimp farms, where each farm is less than 5 ha in size.
Relevant to aquaculture may be the Wildlife (Protection) Act (1972, as recently amended in 2003), which provides for the protection of wild animals (including fish) with a view to ensuring ecological and environmental security.
The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (1960) prevents the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals. Animal is defined as "any living creature other than a human being". Under the Act, the Breeding of and Experiments on Animals (Control and Supervision) Rules (1998, as amended) state that no establishment shall carry on the business of breeding of animals, perform experiments on animals or trade animals for the purpose of experiments, unless it is registered. Under the Rules, experiments include new technologies involving transgenic or genetic manipulation.
Order SO 729 (E) was recently amended by Order No 722 (E). The latter inserts the Maximum Residual Limits (MRLs) for pesticides, heavy metals and antibiotics and other pharmacologically active substances in fish and fishery products. MRLs fixed by importing countries should be complied with if these MRLs are more stringent than the MRLs prescribed in the Order. As mentioned above, the Order includes a list of antibiotics and other pharmacologically active substances that are prohibited.
The Export of Fresh, Frozen and Processed Fish and Fishery Products (Quality Control and Inspection and Monitoring) Rules (1995) establish the primary responsibility of the industry to ensure that fish and fishery products intended for export are handled, processed at all stages of production, stored and transported under proper hygienic conditions so as to meet the health requirements laid down under these Rules and to conform to the specifications of Order SO 729 (E). The Rules contain a definition of "aquaculture products" and state that these products must be treated under proper conditions of hygiene. They must not have been soiled with earth, slime of facces or otherwise contaminated. If not processed immediately after having been pre-processed, they must have been chilled. The Rules also contain provisions on the sanitary certification of aquaculture products. Several Annexures to the Rules lay down specific conditions and requirements concerning, for example, premises, building and equipments, health control and monitoring of production conditions, storage and transport, packaging, HACCP etc.
Pursuant to the Export (Quality Control and Inspection) Act, Order SO 477 (E) (2002) recognizes that live fish including molluscs and crustaceans meant for human consumption must be subject quality control and inspection prior to export. Specifications for live fish can be found in Schedule I.
The Export of Live Fish (Quality Control, Inspection and Monitoring) Rules (2002) establish the responsibility of the processor to ensure that live fish intended for export are handled and held at all stages, including transport, under proper hygienic conditions so as to meet the health requirements laid down under these Rules and to conform to the specifications of Order SO 477 (E). The Rules also contain provisions on the sanitary certification of live fish. Two Annexures to the Rules lay down specific requirements during and after landing as well as general conditions relating to premises, building and equipment and relating to hygiene.
At present, India does not have a separate act dealing with the promotion of (foreign) investment and there is no specific reference to investment in the aquaculture sector. More information on investment in India, including links to State policies, can be obtained from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Secretariat for Industrial Assistance (http://dipp.nic.in/).GMOs
The legal framework for GMOs is constituted by the Rules for the Manufacture, Use, Import, Export and Storage of Hazardous Micro organisms, Genetically Engineered Organisms or Cells (1989), adopted under the Environment (Protection) Act.
Rules for the Manufacture, Use, Import, Export and Storage of Hazardous Micro organisms, Genetically Engineered Organisms or Cells (1989)
Export of Fresh, Frozen and Processed Fish and Fishery Products (Quality Control and Inspection and Monitoring) Rules (1995)
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.
Pathak, S.C., Ghosh, S.K. & Palanisamy, K. The Use of Chemicals in Aquaculture in India. In Use of Chemicals in Aquaculture in Asia, Proceedings of the Meeting on the Use of Chemicals in Aquaculture in Asia. Tigbauan, Iloilo, Philippines, 20 – 22 May 1996.