Malaysian fisheries are governed by the Fisheries Act No.317 (1985) and its regulations. Inland fisheries and aquaculture regulations are issued by State authorities, whereas marine fisheries and aquaculture are a federal concern. Unfortunately, neither the Kedah State Fisheries (Riverine) Rules (1990) nor the Perak State Fisheries (Riverine) Rules (1992) make any provision on aquaculture .
The main fisheries authority at federal level is the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry (MOA). With regard to aquaculture, the Director-General of Fisheries, head of the Fisheries Department, is vested with orientation powers for the development of marine and inland farming, in consultation with the concerned State Authority. In particular, the promotion of inland aquaculture may involve the creation of experimental aquaculture stations for demonstrative purposes, fish-breeding facilities and training centres.
An important actor in the development of the national maritime policy is the Maritime Institute of Malaysia (MIMA), a policy research institute set-up by the Malaysian Government to specifically deal with national, regional and global maritime issues. The Freshwater Fisheries Research Centre operates within the Fisheries Department of the Ministry of Agriculture, for the development of freshwater aquaculture, and the conservation and management of aquatic resources.
Aquaculture farmers' associations are formed according to the Fishermen's Associations Act (1971), for the promotion of economic and social interests of the group. Area associations may federate into a State association, and State associations may create a national confederation. All Fishermen associations are registered with the Fisheries Development Authority of Malaysia (LKIM), which supervises and controls their activities.
With regard to regional arrangements, Malaysia has signed the Agreement on the Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia and the Pacific (NACA) (1988) – together with Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Korea, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam.
Moreover, as part of the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Centre (SEAFDEC), Malaysia participates not only in the several Departmental Programmes on aquaculture, but also in the SEAFDEC–ASEAN programmes, which include the promotion of mangrove-friendly aquaculture and the regionalization of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.
Pursuant to the 1990 Regulations, marine aquaculture is subject to a double authorization system: a permit to set up the facilities, and a licence for their operation.
The whole procedure is managed by the Director-General of Fisheries.
Applications for a permit to set up a mariculture farm must provide the following information:
Also relevant to aquaculture is the Fisheries (Cockles Conservation and Culture) Regulations (2002), under which a licensing procedure is established for the capture of cockles (Anadara) and cockle seeds. In particular, a permit is required to take cockles and cockle seeds from cultured cockle beds. Two different application forms are provided, depending on the capture method to be used.
No specific provisions were found on sea ranching.
Waters Act No.418 (1920, as amended) is the basic law on water resources at federal level, and applies to the States of Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Perak, Selangor, Malacca, Penang and Federal Territory. Under this Act, a licence is required for water abstraction and use, but no specific reference is made to aquaculture.
In order to counteract coastal deterioration, the Guidelines on Erosion Control for Development Projects in the Coastal Zone (1997) give directions for the processing of applications concerning development projects to be carried out in coastal areas. Circular No.5 of 1987 issued by the Prime Minister's Department provides that applications related to any such project is referred to the Coastal Engineering Division (CED) of the Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID). CED assists the Department of Environment (DOE) in the evaluation of EIA applications concerning projects to be developed in coastal zones, where mangrove ecosystems conservation is a major concern.
The Environmental Quality (Prescribed Activities) (Environmental Impact Assessment) Order (1987) establishes that land-based aquaculture projects implying the clearing of mangrove swamp forests, and covering an area of 50 hectares or more, are subject to the EIA procedure described in the Environmental Quality Act. A report, assessing the possible impact of a project on the environment and proposing appropriate prevention, mitigation or control measures, must be submitted to the Director-General of Environmental Quality of the Department of Environment (DOE), Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment. The Director-General's negative decision may be appealed against, to the Appeal Board appointed by the Minister.
According to the Act, environmental licences are issued by the Director-General of Environmental Quality. Unfortunately, the letter of the law does not clarify to which activities or subjects the licensing procedure applies, and whether the EIA process described above is part of such procedure .
The provisions on water pollution from the Waters Act (1920, as amended) apply to freshwater bodies as well as coastal waters. A licence, to be granted by the concerned State Secretary, is required for the discharge of waste matter into any waterbody. No provisions are made with regard to aquaculture effluents.
Under the Environmental Quality Act, a licence is required for the discharge of waste matter in marine and inland waters, above the threshold set by the Minister. Industrial wastewater discharge is regulated under the Environmental Quality (Sewage and Industrial Effluents) Regulations (1979, as amended). Despite the lack of reference to fish farming, its provisions seemingly apply to industrial aquaculture facilities.
Furthermore, pursuant to the Fisheries (Prohibition of Import, etc., of Fish) Regulations (1990), the import of certain freshwater species, such as piranhas and pacus, requires a specific permit from the Director-General.
Animal health in general is managed by the Department of Veterinary Services of the Ministry of Agriculture. Fish health is not explicitly included among its tasks by Animals Ordinance No.17 (1953). Fish is, however, included in the definition of “animals”, applicable to the provisions on animal protection.
The quality and safety of food products is guaranteed by the Veterinary Health Mark Logo (VHM), awarded under the Veterinary Inspection and Accreditation Program of the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS), Ministry of Agriculture. Applications must include information on the Quality Assurance Program (QAP) and the HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points) Plan of the producing company. This certification programme is mainly intended for livestock products processing plants, but is actually open to fish processing plants as well. Due to the veterinary certification requirements set by importing countries, participation in the programme is, de facto, an obligation. Guidelines and codes on best veterinary practice and for building processing plants are provided under the programme.
Mustafa, S., Saad, S. & Rahman, R.A. (Borneo Marine Research Institute, University Malaysia Sabah) – Sea Ranching in Malaysia: Potential and Need for a Framework, in MIMA (Maritime Institute of Malaysia) Bulletin, Vol.10 No.1/2003
Fisheries Development Authority of Malaysia (LKIM)
Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment