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 Law (1986, as amended in 2000) seeks to enhance - inter alia - the production, increase, development and reasonable utilization of the nation’s fishery resources. It requires the state to adopt a policy that calls for simultaneous development of aquaculture, fishing and processing, with special emphasis on aquaculture. The Law is implemented by the Regulation for the Implementation of the Fisheries Law (1987).

        The Bureau of Fisheries, falling under the Ministry of Agriculture, is the main administrative body governing the fisheries and aquaculture sector. The major functions assigned to the Bureau are to formulate plans, strategies, policies and programmes for fisheries development, to guide fisheries economic reform, to implement and monitor fisheries laws, regulations and international/bilateral fisheries agreements, to strengthen fisheries management so as to ensure proper utilization of fisheries and aquatic resources and to protect the fisheries environment, to support fisheries education and scientific research and to administer the fisheries processing industry.

        The Constitution divides China administratively into provinces, autonomous regions and centrally administered municipalities. Under the province or the autonomous region are autonomous prefectures, counties and cities. The fisheries departments in the provinces, autonomous regions, municipalities and counties have more or less the same functions as the Bureau of Fisheries in their respective geographical areas. They are under direct leadership of their provincial, autonomous region, municipal and county governments, and guided by the Bureau of Fisheries.

        Generally, the highest legislative authority in China is the National People's Congress (NPC) and its permanent body, the Standing Committee. The laws passed by the NPC and its Standing Committee are applied nationwide and are mostly general in nature. They are usually supplemented by rules and regulations that deal with more specific matters, issued by the State Council, which is the highest executive organ, and by relevant ministries. In addition, the people's congresses and governments of provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities may exercise legislative power, provided that such local laws and regulations, which proceed from specific conditions in their geographical areas, do not contravene the Constitution or the laws and regulations adopted by the central government. Over the last decades, many local laws and regulations have been adopted that have relevance for aquaculture and aquaculture products. This overview, however, only addresses those laws and regulations adopted by the central government.
        Legal definition
        There is no legal definition of aquaculture
        Guidelines and codes of conduct

        Numerous guidelines have been issued, at both the national and the provincial level, on various topics, for instance the operation of hatcheries and the use of antibiotics and chemicals in aquaculture.
        International arrangements
        China is a member of:
        • World Trade Organization (WTO).
        • Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia and the Pacific (NACA).
        China is a party to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). It has signed the Biosafety Protocol on 8 August 2000 but is not yet a party to the Protocol. China is also a party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
        Authorization system
        According to the Fisheries Law and its implementing Regulation, the people's governments at or above the county level may grant licenses to use state-owned water surfaces and tidal flats to state and collectively-owned units to develop aquaculture. Natural spawning, breeding and feeding grounds of fish, shrimp, crab, shellfish and algae in state owned water surfaces and tidal flats as well as their major migration passages must be protected and cannot be used as aquaculture grounds. Licences can be revoked if water surfaces and tidal flats are neglected for a period of 12 months without a proper reason (this includes the situation in which water surfaces and tidal flats have a stocking quantity below the local standard). Disputes over ownership and rights to the use of water surfaces and tidal flats will be solved through consultation. If no agreement is reached, disputes will be handled by the people's government at or above the county level and, ultimately, by the court. The use of state-owned and collectively owned land is regulated under the Land Administration Law (1998) (see below).

        In 2000, the Fisheries Law was amended. The State draws plans for the use of water surface areas and defines those areas of water surface and intertidal zone or mudflats for aquaculture purpose. Units or individuals, who wish to use those designated areas, must apply for an aquaculture permit through the competent fisheries administration at or above the county level, and the aquaculture permit will be granted by the people's government at the same level to allow using the area for aquaculture activities.
        Access to land and water
        The Land Administration Law, administered by the Ministry of Land and Natural Resources, deals with land ownership, use and planning issues. It requires the state to formulate an overall plan for land utilization, classifying land into agricultural land (including aquaculture), construction land and unused land. Although the Law reaffirms the principle of state/collective ownership of land, it incorporates significant moves towards stronger and more secure individual rights in land used for farming, forestry, livestock and fishery production, in particular where it concerns rights of individual cultivators who make up a collective. The Law provides for peasant contracts of 30 years, thus giving the individual cultivator formal rights over a specific parcel, which can only be altered by the collective management through a specified procedure. The Land Administration Law has been implemented by numerous regulations and measures.

        The Water Law (1988, as amended in 2002), administered by the Ministry of Water Resources, regulates the development, utilization, saving, protection, allocation and management of water resources. All water resources are owned by the state. The Law requires the state to implement a system of water withdrawal permits and paid use of water resources. In the development and utilization of water resources, domestic water for urban and rural use has first priority, and then other uses should be taken into account. Although the Law does not contain any direct reference to aquaculture, the establishment of water conservation facilities, particularly the establishment, utilization and management of water reservoirs, will play an important part in fishery production, in particular in freshwater aquaculture development. Reportedly, China currently plans to introduce a water rights system to replace the water use permit system.

        In addition, in view of the increased multiple use conflicts in sea areas the Sea Area Use Management Law (2002) has recently been adopted. The Law, which is administered by the State Oceanic Administration (SOA) falling under the Ministry of Land and Natural Resources, requires sea area users to obtain use rights by applying for sea area use permits, and to pay user fees. The Law also provides for the establishment of Marine Functional Zonation Schemes, which define the uses of a given sea area in the order of priority. Sectoral development planning (including aquaculture) as well as coastal land use, urban and port planning should be consistent with the Marine Functional Zonation Schemes.
        Provisions on EIA requirements can be found in various environmental laws, none of which, however, specifically refer to aquaculture. The main body of China’s environmental legislative framework is the Environmental Protection Law (1989). The State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), having ministerial status and falling directly under the State Council, plays the lead role in overall environmental management. According to the Law, the competent departments of environmental protection administration of the people’s governments at or above the county level should make an investigation and assessment of the environmental situation within the areas under their jurisdiction. Environmental impact statements of construction projects – including large-scale aquaculture projects – must assess the pollution that the projects are likely to produce, their impact on the environment and describe preventive and curative measures.

        The Law on the Prevention and Control of Water Pollution (1984, as amended) aims to prevent and control pollution of rivers, lakes, canals irrigation channels, reservoirs and other surface water bodies and groundwater. According to the Law, the environmental impact statement of construction projects – including large-scale aquaculture projects – should contain an assessment regarding the water pollution hazards the projects are likely to produce, including their impact on the ecosystem, and a description of measures for prevention and control. The prevention and control of marine pollution is dealt with in the Marine Environment Protection Law (1982, as amended). The Law provides for the formulation and submission of environmental impact statements for coastal construction projects – including large-scale aquaculture projects.

        As can be seen above, over the last two decades EIA requirements have focused mainly on construction and large-scale development projects. The Environmental Impact Assessment Law (2002), which has taken effect on 1 September 2003, expands EIA requirements from individual construction projects to government planning for the development of – inter alia – agriculture, aquaculture, animal husbandry, forestry, water conservation and natural resources.
        Water and wastewater
        Provisions on water quality and the discharge of wastewater can be found in various environmental laws, again none of which specifically refers to aquaculture. The Law on the Prevention and Control of Water Pollution provides for the establishment of national standards for water environment quality and for discharge of water pollutants. The people's governments of provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities may establish their own local standards for items that are not specified in national standards. The law also foresees in the making of integrated and rational plans for the purpose of – inter alia – designating protected zones with regard to major fishery water bodies, which are defined as those parts of water bodies designated for the spawning, feeding, wintering or migratory passage of fish or shrimp, and for breeding fish, shrimp or shellfish or growing algae. The Law is implemented by the Rules for Implementation of the Law on the Prevention and Control of Water Pollution (2000). According to the Rules, enterprises and institutions that discharge pollutants into water bodies – including those involved in aquaculture – must submit a report and registration form for pollutant discharge to the local environment protection department. Upon receipt of the report, and after investigation and verification, the department issues a pollutant discharge licence.

        The Marine Environment Protection Law regulates the discharge of oils, oil mixtures, wastes and other harmful substances by vessels, pollution from coastal construction projects, offshore oil exploration and exploitation, land-source pollutants and the dumping of wastes into the sea. According to the Law, the discharge of harmful substances into the sea by coastal units must be conducted in compliance with the standards for discharge promulgated by the state and by the people’s governments of provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities. No outlet for discharging sewage will be allowed within aquacultural grounds. The Law prohibits the discharge of toxic and harmful wastewater. When discharging heated wastewater, measures must be taken to ensure that the water temperature in the adjacent fishing areas is kept within state water quality standards in order to avoid damage to aquatic resources by heat pollution. Detailed requirements can be found in the Regulations on the prevention of pollution damage to the marine environment by land-sourced pollutants (1990). Other implementing regulations that aim to protect marine water quality include the Regulations on the administration of environmental protection in the exploration and development of off-shore petroleum (1983), Regulations on the prevention of vessel-induced sea pollution (1983), Regulations on control over dumping of wastes in sea waters (1985), Regulations on the environment protection from shipbreaking (1988)  and Regulations on the prevention of the marine environmental pollution by coast construction projects (1990)  . Marine environmental monitoring is undertaken mainly by the SOA and the SEPA, with the former handling marine environmental quality monitoring and the downstream impact of land-based sources, while the latter taking care of monitoring land-based discharges.

        Water quality standards for fisheries (1989) have been adopted according to the Environmental Protection Law, the Law on the Prevention and Control of Water Pollution, the Marine Environmental Protection Law and the Fisheries Law. The standards aim at prevention and control of water pollution in fishing areas, ensure the growth and breeding of fish, shells, and algae, and ensure the quality of aquatic products.
        Fish movement
        The Entry and Exit of Animal and Plant Quarantine Law (1991) aims to prevent infectious or parasitic diseases from spreading into or out of the country, seeks to protect the production of agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry and fishery as well as human health, and to promote the development of trade. Animals, which according to the Law include fish, shrimp and prawn, crab and shellfish, domesticated or wild, as well as animal products, containers and packaging materials used for carrying animals and animal products, including means of transport from animal epidemic areas, are, on entry or exit, subject to quarantine inspection. They need to be accompanied by quarantine certificates issued by the quarantine departments of the countries of export.
        In addition, the Law on the Protection of Wildlife (1988) aims to protect and save species of wildlife, which are rare or near extinction. The Law is implemented by the Regulations for the Protection of Aquatic Wildlife (1993), which grants the fishery administration the responsibility of managing precious or endangered species of aquatic wildlife. The transportation of such species out of a county, the import or introduction of such species from abroad, as well as their export, require an application to be filed to the competent fishery administration under the people's government of the relevant province, autonomous region or municipality. The import or introduction of such species also requires the scientific authentication of the science research institution designated by the competent department of fishery administration under the people's government at or above the provincial level. Other measures include the regular monitoring of aquatic wildlife resources, the designation of aquatic nature reserves and the issuance of special catching licences and domestication and breeding licences.
        Disease control
        The Law on Animal Diseases (1997), which is applicable to fish, describes the procedure to control and cease animal diseases, including quarantine measures. As mentioned above, the Entry and Exit of Animal and Plant Quarantine Law aims to prevent infectious or parasitic diseases from spreading into or out of the country.
        The legislative framework on chemicals is complex. Numerous laws and regulations address the production, registration, import and export, storage, transport, usage and/or disposal of certain types of chemicals. The prevention and control of damage from pollutants, including chemicals, that concern aquaculture is generally addressed in the Environmental Protection Law, the Law on the Prevention and Control of Water Pollution and the Marine Environment Protection Law. Provisions that are more specific can be found in – amongst others – the Regulations on the Environmental Management of First Import of Chemicals and the Import and Export of Toxic Chemicals (1994)  , the Regulations on the Management of Pesticides (1997) and the Regulations on the Control over the Safety of Dangerous Chemicals (2002)  . The Regulations for the Administration of Veterinary Medicines (1988), amended in 2004, govern the production, registration, import, export and sale of veterinary drugs. The Regulations also establish control systems for new drugs and for drug safety monitoring. The Regulations stipulate that the fishery authorities at or above county level are responsible for the administration of drug use and drug residue tests for the aquaculture industry.
        The Regulations for the Administration of Feed and Feed Additives (1999) aim to strengthen the administration of feed and feed additives, improve their quality, increase the development of the feed industry and animal production and enhance public health safety. Feed is defined as material to be used as animal food after industrial manufacture. Feed additives are defined as material to be added in small or micro quantities during feed manufacture. Drug feed additives, however, remain regulated in the Regulations for the Administration of Veterinary Medicines. The Regulations contain requirements and procedures for the evaluation, registration, import, packaging, labelling and storage of feeds and feed additives, which are subject to quality control tests. The Regulations also stipulate the conditions for the establishment of feed and feed additives enterprises. The Bureau of Animal Production and Health, falling under the Ministry of Agriculture, administers the Law.

        The Regulations are implemented by the Procedures for Administration of Registration of Imported Feed and Feed Additives (2000), which require foreign enterprises to apply to the Ministry of Agriculture for registration of their feed and feed additives if they are to be sold in China, and to obtain a production registration certificate.
        Food safety
        The Food Hygiene Law (1995), which contains a wide definition of food ("any finished product or raw material provided for people to eat or drink..") applies to all foods and food additives, including containers, packaging, utensils and equipment used for food, as well as detergents and disinfectants used for washing of food. It also applies to premises and facilities associated with food production and marketing. The Law requires the administrative department of public health under the State Council to formulate and promulgate national hygiene standards, hygiene control regulations and inspection procedures for food, food additives, containers, packaging, utensils and equipment used for food, detergents and disinfectants used for washing of food, as well as for tolerances for contaminants and radioactive substances in food.

        The Standardization Law (1988)   requires standards to be formulated for – inter alia – agricultural products. The Law is implemented by the Regulations on the Implementation of the Standardization Law (1990)  , which defines agricultural products as to include fishery products. According to the Regulation, in formulating national standards for pharmaceuticals, food hygiene and veterinary drugs, the competent departments in charge of public health and agriculture under the State Council will be responsible for organizing, drafting, examination, and approval in their respective departments.
        Aquaculture investment 
        Over the past years, China has tried to create a better investment climate to attract more and more overseas investors setting up their companies or joint ventures in China. The Catalogue for the Guidance of Foreign Investment Industries and its Appendix (2002)  classifies foreign investment projects into four categories: encouraged, permitted, restricted and prohibited projects. Foreign investment projects belonging to encouraged, restricted and prohibited categories are listed in the Catalogue. The list of encouraged foreign investment industries includes – inter alia – the breeding of quality varieties of aquatic offspring (excluding precious quality varieties peculiar to China) and the breeding of famous, special and fine aquatic products, as well as cage culture in deep winter. It also includes aquatic products processing, seashell products cleansing and processing, and development of function food made from seaweed. In addition, it mentions the development and production of new varieties of effective, low poison and low residual agriculture chemicals and pesticides, the development and production of biology agriculture chemicals and pesticides, as well as the production of antibiotic material medicines used for animals (including antibiotics and chemical synthesis medicines). The list of prohibited foreign investment industries mentions the cultivation of China's rare precious breeds (including fine genes in the aquatic products industry).
        More information on foreign investment in China can be found at: http://www.cadz.org.cn/en/tzzg/default.asp.

        The Safety Administration Regulation on Genetic Engineering (1993) aims at promoting research and development of biotechnology in China, tightening safety control of genetic engineering work, guaranteeing public health of common citizens and genetic engineering workers, preventing environmental pollution and maintaining ecological balance. The Regulation is implemented by the Safety Administration Implementation Regulation on Agricultural Biological Genetic Engineering (1996), which is applicable to agricultural organisms whose genome constitution has been changed by using genetic engineering technologies, including aquatic animals and plants. The Implementation Regulation closely follows the provisions of the principal Regulation. It describes safety classes and safety evaluation, application and approval procedures and safety control measures. Schedule V to the Implementing Regulation contains a safety assessment of genetic engineered organisms and their products acquired from aquatic animals and plants.
        Procedures for Administration of Registration of Imported Feed and Feed Additives (2000). (Copy not available)
        Regulations for the Administration of Veterinary Medicines (1988). (Copy not available)
        Sea Area Use Management Law (2002) (Copy not available)
        Related resources

        faolexSearch parameters: country=CHN, 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
        Bin L. Water Rights in China, Paper presented at the International Working Conference on Water Rights: Institutional Options for Improving Water Allocation. Hanoi, Vietnam. February 12-15, 2003
        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
        Ministry of Agriculture
        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).
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