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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
        The Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Act (1996) addresses the management, regulation, conservation and development of fisheries and aquatic resources in Sri Lanka. Part VI of the Act addresses aquaculture. Part X of the Act grants the Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources general power to make regulations with regard to all matters stated in the Act, including the management and regulation of aquaculture. Several regulations have been adopted under the Act, which have an impact on aquaculture and aquaculture products.

        The National Aquaculture Development Authority of Sri Lanka Act (1998) establishes the National Aquaculture Development Authority and regulates its functioning and constitution. The Authority has general policy responsibility for the development of the aquaculture sector in Sri Lanka.
        Legal definition
        The Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Act defines aquaculture as "the husbanding of aquatic plants and organisms ranging from the propagation of aquatic organisms under human control to the manipulation of at least one stage of an aquatic organism's life for the purpose of increasing production".
        Guidelines and codes of conduct
        Guidelines  have been set up that offer guidance as to the siting, design, construction and operation of shrimp farms and hatcheries in order to avoid environmental degradation, waste and effluent management.
        International arrangements
        Sri Lanka is a member of:
        • World Trade Organization (WTO).
        • South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
        • Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia and the Pacific (NACA).
        Sri Lanka is a party to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Biosafety Protocol. Sri Lanka is also a party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
        Authorization system
        The Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Act establishes control over the setting up and operation of an aquaculture enterprise and regulates the application, form and duration, renewal and cancellation of an aquaculture licence. The licence may be subject to such terms and conditions as may be imposed for the protection of the environment.

        The licence procedure and the requirements for setting up and operating an aquaculture enterprise are prescribed in the Aquaculture Management Regulations (1996). An application for a licence shall be made in Form A, set out in part II of the Schedule. The application needs to specify the following issues:
        • Name of enterprise.
        • Type of aquaculture system.
        • Name and address of applicant.
        • Location.
        • Type of investment.
        • Date of commencement of operation.
        • Number of employees.
        • General description:
          1. Land (owned or leased); land use within 0.5 km radius; description of existing industries within 1 km radius).
          2. Water (source; water requirement; final discharge point).
          3. Species cultured and targeted annual production.
          4. Details of holding facilities.
          5. Culture methodology.
        • Environment Protection Licence (see below).
        • Environment Impact Assessment (see below).
        • Approval of the Coast Conservation Department (see below).
        • Monitoring plan.
        • Expansion of the enterprise.
        The Regulations indicate the authorizing authority for each of four different categories of aquaculture enterprises, as set out in Part I of the Schedule, and define specific procedures and requirements for the granting of licences for these categories. Any licence will be made in Form B, as set out in the Schedule, is not transferable, valid for one year and renewable. The Director of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources may limit the number of licences in the interest of the economy and the environment.
        Access to land and water
        According to the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Act, portions of state land and Sri Lanka waters will be leased for the purpose of aquaculture as the Minister considers necessary.

        Land legislation in Sri Lanka is complex, voluminous and fragmented among many enactments. Numerous laws relate directly to various aspects of access to land and land use, many of which have been amended numerous times. Land can be privately or state owned. Private land is governed by a variety of tenure regimes, including traditional tenure regimes. State owned land (including public water and streams) can be alienated through various grant, permit or leasing schemes, mainly under the Land Development Ordinance (1935, as amended), the State Lands Ordinance (1949) and the Land Grants (Special Provisions) Act (1979). None of the laws, however, refer to the lease of land or water specifically for aquaculture purposes.

        The control, regulation and development (including pollution, conservation and utilization) of Sri Lanka's water resources is regulated in the Water Resources Board Act (1964, as amended in 1999). The Act, however, does not refer to water specifically for aquaculture purposes. The need for an improved legal and institutional framework for water resources management has recently culminated in the preparation of a draft Water Resources Act  . The draft Act establishes a National Water Resources Authority, which should deal with applications for water entitlements, water allocation, groundwater issues, conservation of water resources and water resources planning.

        Sri Lanka has extensive legislation on coastal zone management. The Coast Conservation Act (1981, as amended in 1988) prohibits any person to engage in a "development activity" (which includes aquaculture) within the coastal zone, unless such person is authorized by a permit issued by the Director of Coast Conservation. No permit will be issued unless it is consistent with the Coastal Zone Management Plan and unless it has no adverse effect on the stability, productivity and environmental quality of the coastal zone. The Director may require the applicant to submit an Environmental Impact Assessment. The Director defines the duration of the permit, which is renewable upon request. The Director may vary or revoke the conditions of the permit for the purposes of proper management of the coastal zone. In addition, the Act provides for the issuance of permits for the occupation of the foreshore or seabed lying within the coastal zone for any period not exceeding three years.

        The Coast Conservation Regulations (1982)   further define the criteria to be used in determining whether a permit may be issued. The proposed development activity may not cause an adverse impact on the coastal zone or any part thereof, so as to result in the discharge of unacceptable levels of effluents or toxic substances, or to affect the ecosystem. The activity may not be sited in areas reserved or in use as a wild life habitat. Applications for permits should be in Form A, as set out in the Schedule. The following particulars should be furnished for an Environmental Impact Assessment:
        • Description of geographical boundaries of the operation.
        • Description of ecological state.
        • Indication of nature, aims and scope of the operation.
        • Description of methods installations and other means.
        • Description of foreseeable direct and indirect long term and short term effects of the operations on the environment, including fauna, flora and the ecological balance.
        • Measures proposed to reduce to the minimum the risk of damage to the environment from carrying out the operation.
        • Measures proposed to protect the environment from pollution and other adverse effects.
        • Any other particulars as specified by the Director.
        • Brief summary of the assessment.
        The National Environmental Act (1980, as amended in 1988) makes provision for the protection, management and enhancement of the environment, for the regulation, maintenance and control of the quality of the environment, and for the prevention and control of pollution. The Act establishes the Central Environmental Authority for its administration. Part IV C of the Act requires the approval of "project approving agencies" for "prescribed projects" following an Initial Environmental Examination (IEE) or EIA. According to the National Environmental (Impact Assessment) Regulations (1992)  , the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources is considered a "project approving agency" for fisheries matters.

        The "prescribed projects" that require an IEE or EIA are further defined by an Order, issued in 1993 under section 23Z of the National Environmental Act. They include the following aquaculture projects:
        • Aquaculture development projects over 4 ha, if located wholly or partly outside the coastal zone as defined by the Coast Conservation Act.
        • Projects that involve conversion of forests covering an area exceeding 1 ha into non-forest use, if located wholly or partly outside the coastal zone as defined by the Coast Conservation Act.
        • Aquaculture projects irrespective of their size and irrespective whether or not they are located within the coastal zone, if located within environmentally sensitive areas (as further defined by Part III of the Order).
        The procedure to be followed by the “project approving agencies“ is regulated in the National Environmental (Procedure for Approval of Projects) Regulations (1993). The applicant should submit as early as possible preliminary information on the project as requested by the agency, which must acknowledge receipt of such preliminary information in writing within 6 days. In consultation with the Central Environmental Authority, the agency decides within 14 days whether an IEE must be held or within 30 days whether an EIA must be held. The agency sets the terms of reference for the IEE or EIA. In drafting the terms, the agency may take into consideration the views of state agencies and the public. Upon receipt of the IEE or EIA report, the agency can grant approval (upon specified conditions) or refuse approval (with reasons).

        Finally, the North Western Province has its own statutes and authority for environmental matters. The North Western Province Environmental Statute (1990) provides for the establishment of the North Western Province Environmental Authority, which acts as “project approving agency“ and administers IEE's and EIA's for the North Western Province.
        Water and wastewater
        The Marine Pollution Prevention Act (1981) provides for the prevention, reduction and control of pollution in Sri Lanka waters. The Act establishes the Marine Pollution Prevention Authority to administer the Act. In case of pollution, the owner or the operator of a ship, offshore-installation or pipeline is liable for any damage caused by the discharge, escape or dumping of any oil or other pollutant into Sri Lanka waters, to the foreshore or any interests related thereto (including fisheries activities). As mentioned above, the control, regulation and development (including pollution, conservation and utilization) of Sri Lanka's water resources is currently regulated in the Water Resources Board Act.

        The discharge or disposal of waste into the environment is prohibited by the National Environmental Act (Part IV A) and the National Environmental (Protection and Quality) Regulations (1990)  , unless such person is authorized by an Environment Protection Licence in accordance with the standards and criteria as prescribed in the Act. The Act and the Regulations prescribe the licence procedure, including renewal, suspension and cancellation of the licence.

        Standards for emissions (discharge of effluents) into inland surface, brackish and marine coastal waters, in particular for the discharge of aquaculture waste waters, have been set by the Central Environmental Authority. Aquaculture farmers may be required to obtain the Environment Protection Licence to discharge, deposit or emit waste into the environment and in keeping standards established under the Act.
        Fish movement
        Part IV of the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Act deals with the protection of fish and other aquatic resources. The Act allows the Minister, having regard to the need to protect the aquatic resources of Sri Lanka, to prohibit or regulate the export from, or import into, Sri Lanka of any species of fish.

        The Export and Import of Live Fish Regulations (1998) specify in the Schedule the species of live fish that cannot be exported (Part I), species of live fish that may be exported with a license issued by the Director (Part II), and species of live fish that cannot be imported (Part III). Part IV of the Schedule contains the prescribed "Form A" of application for a licence, whereas the licence itself should be in "Form B".
        Disease control
        The Aquaculture Management (Disease Control) Regulations (2000), adopted under the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Act, establish various cleaning and disinfection requirements for aquaculture enterprises. The licensee of an aquaculture enterprise or establishment is obliged to inform the Director-General of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources of any symptom that might constitute a ground for suspecting an outbreak of any disease listed in the Schedule. The latter has the power to suspend all contact with other aquaculture enterprises in the area that could spread the disease, to suspend any fish from being taken out of the enterprise for any purpose whatsoever, and, on receipt of the report from the laboratory, to impose corrective measures. In addition, the Regulations empower the Director-General to supervise the use of antibiotics in fish feed, and where necessary to issue guidelines. The use of artificial colouring agents in fish for human consumption is prohibited. Vaccination of fish against any of the diseases listed in the Schedule is prohibited, except with a permit obtained from the Director-General. Finally, the holder of an aquaculture license is required to maintain a logbook with information relating to – inter alia – stocking, feeding and harvesting, water renewal, disease prevention methods and descriptions of diseases discovered and measures taken to control them.

        In addition, the Animal Diseases Act (1992), which defines animals and animal products as to include "all varieties of fish, crab, prawn, lobster, and turtle, marine as well as fresh water fish, whether cooked, canned, dried, salted or smoked", may be applicable to aquaculture. This Act lists a number of measures that can be taken by the Director of Animal Production and Health in case of animal diseases, including sealing of infected premises and areas, power to close roads to animal traffic, disinfection and destruction and disposal of animal products. The Act also deals with the import and export of animals and animal products. Import permits are issued by the Controller of Imports and Exports, on recommendation of the Director, after submission of a health certificate from the country of origin. Importers of diseased animals have an obligation to notify the Director. The permit and notification procedures and the powers that may be used by the Director to enforce the Act are further regulated in the Animal Diseases (Control and Prevention) Regulations (1998).
        As mentioned above, the Aquaculture Management (Disease Control) Regulations address the use of antibiotics in fish feed and vaccination in aquaculture enterprises.

        The licensing, import, packing, labelling, storage, formulation, transport, sale and use of pesticides is generally regulated in the Control of Pesticides Act (1980, as amended in 1994). Furthermore, the Animal Diseases Act regulates the issuance of a licence for the manufacture of veterinary drugs and veterinary biological products (such as vaccines) as well as their import and export. Again, import permits are issued by the Controller of Imports and Exports, on recommendation of the Director of Animal Production and Health, after submission of a certificate certifying the safety of the veterinary drug or veterinary biological product. The Act also makes provision for the establishment of a Veterinary Drug Control Authority.

        Finally, the Cosmetics, Devices and Drugs Act (1980), which prohibits the manufacture, preparation, preservation, packaging or storage for sale of drugs (including drugs for animals) under unsanitary conditions, and of adulterated drugs, may be applicable to veterinary drugs. The Act also prohibits the import, sale and distribution of drugs and addresses labelling, packaging and advertising requirements.
        As mentioned above, the Aquaculture Management (Disease Control) Regulations, allow the Director-General to supervise the use of antibiotics in fish feed, and where necessary to issue guidelines.

        In addition, the Animal Feed Act (1986), which regulates, supervises and controls the manufacture, sale and distribution of animal feed, may be applicable to aquaculture. The Act makes provisions relating to the particulars that must be stated on the print or label and prohibits manufacturing, preparing or storing any animal feed for sale, or sell or distribute and animal feed, which has been adulterated.
        Food safety
        Part X of the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Act (1996) grants the Minister general power to make regulations with regard to the handling and distribution of fish and other aquatic resources and the maintenance of quality of fish, fish products and other aquatic resources, as well as the licensing of establishments for the processing of fish and other aquatic resources and the conditions to be attached to such licences.

        The Minister has used this power to adopt the Fish Products (Export) Regulations (1998), which prescribe the rules relative to hygiene and other requirements for fish processing establishments that are allowed to export fish products (including aquaculture products). Fish processing establishments for export should be certified and subject to inspection and monitoring by competent authorities through appointed inspectors. The Regulations are completed by 11 Schedules containing hygiene and other conditions for processing of fish on board of fishing vessels and in processing facilities (Schedules A-D), rules relative to control, sampling and analysis of fish (E), packaging (F), storage and transport (G), identification marks (H), and establishment and implementation of the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) system (H-K).

        According to the Fish Processing Establishments Regulations (1998), any fish processing establishment requires a licence to be issued by the Director of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources. Applications for licences should be made in Form A of the Schedule in the Regulations, whereas the licence itself must be made in Form B of the Schedule. Licences will be valid for one year, unless revoked earlier for reasons specified in the Regulations.

        The recently adopted Aquaculture (Monitoring of Residues) Regulations (2002) require the licensee of an aquaculture enterprise or establishment to carry out its own checks (self-monitoring) to ensure that suppliers of fish observe the appropriate withdrawal periods and that fish for processing purposes does not contain residue levels, which exceed the maximum permitted limits, or traces of unauthorized substances, and has not been administered with any illegal treatment. In addition, random inspections are carried out by inspectors. If an illegal treatment is established, the fish under investigation is placed under the official control of the Director-General and – inter alia – no such fish will be removed from the aquaculture enterprise, except under the supervision of the latter.

        The Regulations also provide for the establishment of a national residue monitoring plan, which sets out – inter alia – national measures for the detection of residues of the substances specified in Schedule I, sampling rules and sampling levels and frequencies, national tolerances for authorized substances, a list of approved laboratories, a list of substances to be detected (including methods for their analysis, interpretation standards etc.) and the type of measures to be adopted with regard to fish products in which residues have been detected. All aquaculture enterprises and establishments are required to comply with the plan.

        Schedule I to the Regulations lists the unauthorized substances, veterinary drugs and contaminants, of which residues must be detected. Schedule II provides rules on sampling strategy, Schedule III on sampling levels and frequency and Schedule IV on official sampling procedures and official sample treatment.

        Finally, the Food Act (1980, as amended in 1991), which prohibits the manufacturing, import, sale or distribution of food unfit for human consumption, as well as the labelling, packaging and advertising of food in a false or misleading manner, may be applicable. The Act contains a wide definition of food ("any article manufactured, sold or represented for use as food or drink for human beings and includes any article which ordinarily enters into or is used in the composition of preparation of food"). The Food Authority is the responsible authority under the Act. Whereas the Fish Products (Export) Regulations are applicable to aquaculture products intended for export, the provisions of the Food Act may be relevant for the production and processing of aquaculture products intended for domestic consumption.
        Aquaculture investment 
        The Board of Investment (BOI) Act (2002)  seeks to promote and facilitate investment in Sri Lanka and provides for the establishment of the Board of Investors. The Board has identified priority sectors for attracting foreign and local investments, including "shellfish and other products of mariculture and aquaculture".
        Board of Investment Act (BOI) Act (2002). (Copy not available).
        National Environmental (Impact Assessment) Regulations (1992). (Copy not available)
        National Environmental (Protection and Quality) Regulations (1990). (Copy not available)
        Related resources

        faolexSearch parameters: country=LKA, Keywords=aquaculture;mariculture
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        Title of textDate of textConsolidated dateEntry into forceCountries
        Arthur, J.R., Lavilla-Pitogo, C.R. and Subasinghe, R.P. (eds). 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 (
        Garduño Velasco, H. 2001. Water Rights Administration - Experiences, Issues and Guidelines. FAO Legislative Study No 70
        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
        Van Houtte, A. Salient legal and institutional features with regard to the development of shrimp culture in a few countries. In: FAO. 1999. Papers presented at the Bangkok FAO Technical Consultation on Policies for Sustainable Shrimp Culture. Bangkok, Thailand, 8-11 December 1997. FAO Fisheries Report No. 572 (Supplement).
        Related links
        Country profiles: Sri Lanka
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