In Venezuela, the main piece of legislation regulating the matter is the Fisheries and Aquaculture Law (Ley de Pesca y Acuacultura) (2001), according to which the Ministry of Agriculture and Land (Ministerio de Agricultura y Tierras) is in charge of drafting the national fisheries and aquaculture policy, as well as the international fisheries policy. The National Institute for Fisheries and Aquaculture (Instituto Nacional de la Pesca y Acuicultura – INaPesca) – an autonomous institution with legal personality, attached to the Ministry – assists the Ministry in establishing the National Plan for the Development of Fisheries and Aquaculture, in keeping with the National Development Plan. Additionally, it is worth mentioning that a National Programme for Inland Aquaculture (Programa Nacional de Piscicultura) was created in 1976, with a view to ensuring food security.
The Ministry is also responsible for issuing regulations on hydrobiological resources management, whereas the National Institute for Fisheries and Aquaculture may only issue regulations on the conservation of hydrobiological resources in coordination with the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (Ministerio del Ambiente y los Recursos Naturales) to ensure sustainable aquaculture.
Lastly, the Law provides that the Ministry has the power to authorize the conduct of fisheries, aquaculture and related activities. However, the granting of permits, licences and concessions is vested in the National Institute for Fisheries and Aquaculture.
The Law also provides for a detailed classification of aquaculture activities, according to their purpose:
Venezuela is also a party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and has ratified the Biosafety Protocol.
Regarding water access, the Law on Forestry, Land and Water (Ley Forestal, de Suelos y de Aguas) (1965, as amended) and its Regulation (1969, as amended) set the procedure for the granting of concessions for the public waters use. Aquaculture is not specifically mentioned among the possible uses. However, it may be included in the use of water for the functioning of “any other agricultural or industrial companies”. Applications shall be filed with the Ministry of Agriculture and Land and accompanied by a technical study and a map of the concerned area. The terms and conditions shall be agreed in special contracts, which may have a maximum duration of 60 years.
Any natural or legal, public or private person intending to develop a project implying land occupation shall file an Intention Document (Documento de Intención) with the Ministry of Environment, in correspondence with the beginning of the feasibility study. The Intention Document shall mention the objectives, justification and description of the different options considered for the development of the project, the actions having potential environmental impact, the chronogram of activities and an estimate of the budget costs. Any further information available on the environmental components that may be negatively affected by the project shall be included. Within the following 30 consecutive days, the Ministry shall establish whether an environmental impact study is required. Shrimp aquaculture is included among the activities for which the filing of an Environmental Impact Study is mandatory.
Following the affirmative response of the Ministry, the project promoters shall present a Terms of Reference Proposal (Propuesta de Términos de Referencia), which, once approved, will determine the content of the Environmental Impact Study.
The Proposal shall include the following information:
Where an Environmental Impact Study is not required, the Ministry may call for a Specific Environmental Assessment (Evaluación Ambiental Específica) – for instance, in case of reconversion or closing up of an activity – or for other documentation in order to authorize the project.
The Environmental Impact Study, the Specific Environmental Assessment or the other documentation required must be presented to the Ministry, jointly with the application for the approval or authorization of land occupation. Within 60 consecutive days, the Ministry shall notify the result of the review of the Study and the granting or denial of the authorization. The authorization shall contain the following details:
During the EIA process, the Ministry may allow public review and consultation of the Study. Moreover, approved Studies are made available to the general public in the Documentation Centres of the Ministry of Environment.
In conclusion, it is noteworthy to mention that the Criminal Law on the Environment (Ley Penal del Ambiente) (1992) inflicts sanctions to public officers granting authorizations without complying with the EIA requirements.
Another reference to aquaculture is found in the Partial Regulation No.4 to the Organic Law on the Environment, on Water Classification (Reglamento Parcial Nº 4 de la Ley Orgánica del Ambiente, sobre Clasificación de Aguas) (1978), which determines the qualitative characteristics of waters intended for uses such as the cultivation of molluscs for raw consumption, agriculture or commercial fisheries.
Concerning the discharge of wastewater, only agricultural production in general and fish products processing are explicitly mentioned among the activities that are subject to the standards established by the Rules on Liquid Effluents (Normas sobre Efluentes Líquidos) (1985).
Furthermore, the Law on Biological Diversity (Ley de Diversidad Biológica) (1999) sets the necessary framework to ensure the conservation of native species and of those having a scientific, cultural or economic value, on the one hand, and to control the introduction of exotic species and the establishment of activity that may have a negative impact on the biodiversity, on the other hand. In this direction, the Law provides that an application to the National Office for Biological Diversity (Oficina Nacional de la Diversidad Biológica) – authority attached to the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources – is needed to access genetic resources. The procedure leads to the subscription of a contract and to the publication of a resolution in the declarative registry. The Law also establishes the main principles of biosecurity, requiring the National Government to regulate the introduction and commerce of GMOs.
Lastly, according to the Rules on the Introduction of Panaeus Shrimps for Cultivation and Research (Normas para el Ingreso al País de Ejemplares Vivos de Crustáceos Camarones del Género Penaeus a los Fines del Cultivo e Investigación) (1984), the import of live specimens of Penaeus shrimps requires the granting of a permit by the Ministry of Agriculture. The application shall contain the following information:
The responsible authority for the prevention, control and eradication of animal, plant and fish diseases at a national level is the Autonomous Health Service for Agriculture and Fisheries.
As mentioned in the paragraph on the authorization system above, the processing and commercialization of fish products are subject to the granting of a permit by the National Institute for Fisheries and Aquaculture. On top of this, we shall remind that the main principles for the introduction and commerce of products containing GMOs are established by the Law on Biological Diversity (see § on fish movement).
Lastly, the Agricultural Marketing Law (Ley de Mercadeo Agrícola) (2002) regulates the commercialization of agricultural products, which include aquaculture products.
The Fisheries and Aquaculture Law states that the financing of the fisheries and aquaculture subsector is among the responsibilities of the Development Fund for Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry and related sectors. In particular, aquaculture is considered a priority area. The Law also provides that the National, State and Municipal Authorities shall establish financing programmes and incentives to promote sustainable development of aquaculture and fisheries. The procedure to apply for loans is established by the Law on the Development Fund for Agriculture and Fisheries (Ley del Fondo de Crédito Agropecuario) (1988).
Regulation to the Law on Forestry, Land and Water (Reglamento de la Ley Forestal, de Suelos y de Aguas) (1969, as amended).
(Ley del Fondo de Crédito Agropecuario) (1988) Law on the Development Fund for Agriculture and Fisheries.
(Reglamento Parcial Nº 4 de la Ley Orgánica del Ambiente, sobre Clasificación de Aguas) (1978) Partial Regulation No.4 to the Organic Law on the Environment, on Water Classification.
Reglamento de Clasificación de las Aguas y Medidas de Control de Polución de la Cuenca del Lago de Maracaibo (1985).
(Normas sobre Evaluación Ambiental de Actividades Susceptibles de Degradar el Ambiente) (1996) Rules on the Environmental Assessment of Activities that may Damage the Environment.
(Normas para el Ingreso al País de Ejemplares Vivos de Crustáceos Camarones del Género Penaeus a los Fines del Cultivo e Investigación) (1984) Rules on the Introduction of Panaeus Shrimps for Cultivation and Research.
National Institute for Fisheries and Aquaculture (Instituto Nacional de la Pesca y Acuicultura – INaPesca).
Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (Ministerio del Ambiente y de los Recursos Naturales).
Autonomous Health Service for Agriculture and Fisheries (Servicio Autonomo de Sanidad Agropecuaria – SASA).