This article is written by Dhairya Gawde. She is an intern under the Content Team Legal Thirst.
In this article, we would be discussing Fisheries and Aquaculture in the Indian Legal Framework and would be discussing the major law reforms and laws in this area.
It is a well-known fact that India is one of the top suppliers of fish and marine life on a global scale. Our suitable climatic conditions along with copious water bodies allow the breeding of healthy and consumable marine life. Fisheries and aquaculture are our significant sources of food. They are also widely beneficial in monetary terms as income means. Aquaculture setups range from major diatonic scale commercial operations to small-scale farming and are performed mostly in tanks and ponds. Up to 55./. of total fish production in India is by means of freshwater aquaculture. To achieve this, India’s marine coastline stretches up to 7,000 kilometers with miles of inland river canals and reservoirs making the industry manifold. The Indian fisheries sector incorporates a unique and diverse set of resources ranging from the pristine waters of the Himalayas to the sprawling Indian Ocean Traditional
catch fishing in India sweeps from fishing on traditional catamarans and canoes to motorized boats, trawlers, and gillnetters. Since the 1970s and 1980s, India has been at the forefront of carp cultivations. The main species of carp from India include Catla, mrigal, and rohu among others, Shrimp, tiger prawns, and Indian white prawns also form a part of major exports of farmed fish. The sector has presumed a concrete hold in developing countries by providing large contributions to fish production, nutritional security, and productive employment generation.
Key historic regulations in the industry
There were some key regulations and laws in the industry when the practice was beginning to get widespread. An important one to start with is the British Era Fisheries Act. In current times, activities concerning inland fisheries in most states are regulated by this antiquated act. The act brought in 1897, penalized the illicit killing of marine life by means of poison and explosives as these would then be unsuitable and even lethal for consumption and the aquatic life in the affected region would also suffer. A prime act that frames the regulations for the local, state, and federal agencies to work together for the protection of the environment and prevention of hazards to human beings was ratified in wake of The Bhopal Gas Tragedy. This incident which is considered the worst industrial calamity in history conveyed the need for a provision that would overlook such practices at all levels and thus the Environment Protection Act of 1986 was established. Water Prevention and Control of Pollution Act of 1974, the objective of the act was to control pollution, restore and replenish water bodies, gauge pollution levels and penalize polluters. Methodical control and prevention of water wastage by household means were also highlighted in the act. The Wildlife Protection Act was constituted in 1972 to protect wildlife including marine wildlife by introducing conservation programs. This act was the need of the hour due to the severe degradation of wildlife habitats on a regular basis. In accordance with this, several local and international laws were set up along with enforcement-type agencies to serve the aim of the provision.
Background of the fisheries sector in India
The Indian fisheries sector incorporates a unique and diverse set of resources ranging from the pristine waters of the Himalayas to the sprawling Indian Ocean. The fisheries biodiversity of the country encompasses a spectrum of biological components that are consumed on a large scale. Fisheries’ resources are set in several ecosystems. With the growing population and therefore the increasing demand for fish protein, the necessity for sustainable development of aquatic resources is now felt far more than ever before. The sector provides livelihoods to about 16 million fishers and fish farmers at the local level and almost twice the number along the value chain. Fish being an
affordable and rich source of animal protein is one of the healthiest options to alleviate hunger and malnutrition. The total fisheries potential of India has been estimated at 22.31 million metric tons (in 2018), of this, the marine fisheries potential stands at an estimated 5.31 million metric tons. Furthermore, the inland fisheries potential has been estimated at 17 million metric tons. Within recent years, fish production in India has registered an average annual growth rate of quite 7%.
Fisheries management structure in India
Fisheries being a State subject, the States play an important role in fisheries governance. The
role of the Central Government is to enhance the former’s efforts during this regard by following the guiding principles of cooperative political theory. Where midland Fisheries are totally managed by State Governments, Marine Fisheries have shared responsibility between the Central and Coastal State/UT Governments. Coastal States/UTs are responsible for the development, management, and regulation of fisheries within the ocean waters within the twelve-transportation mile (22 km) territorial limit. The government of India is responsible for the management and regulation of fisheries within the EEZ waters up to two hundred transportation miles (370 km). Therefore, it is imperative that the center effectively manages and regulates this common property resource for its property and accountable utilization in collaboration with States.
Analysis and Contemporary framework
Current Legal Provisions
Human interventions employed in the past few decades have downgraded the quality of inland fisheries resources. Unplanned and improper development structures have led to adverse effects on the marine environment.
In accordance with the provisions within the MPEDA (Marine Products Export Development
Authority) Act, necessary steps for the augmentation of production of staple fare for export is completed by MPEDA through various Aquaculture promotional schemes of the Authority.
MPEDA also regulates aquaculture production and merchandise quality-related aspects as per authorization of Export Inspection Council (EIC) under the EIC Act.
Some of the agencies like Coastal Aquaculture Authority (CAA), and Department of Fisheries and Municipal Administration in several States and Union Territories, Ministry of Environment and Forest, and Ministry of Agriculture have guidelines for aquaculture, and therefore the same is often accessed through their websites.
The principal provision guiding the sector and providing guidelines was constituted in 1897 known as The Indian Fisheries Act. It provides for certain matters concerning fisheries. It extends to the whole of India and is supplemental to other fishery laws in India. The legislation contains guidelines regarding various offenses like the destruction of fish by poisoning water and by explosives in inland waters. It also provides for arrest without warrant for certain offenses under this act and this arrest would be warranted by the state. Detailed prohibitions revolving around certain hazardous materials have been put down in the act.
National Fisheries Policy 2020
The National Fisheries Policy was announced by the Fisheries Department in the September of 2020 to integrate the assorted existing policies associated with fisheries in India. A state-level Inter-departmental Coordination Committee for Fisheries had been planned to be shaped. The Agriculture Production Commissioner shall take the role of the to be the chairman of the committee. The GOI will formulate ‘Fisheries Management Plans’ (FMPs) for the scientific regulation & management of marine fisheries resources. The state governments will formulate Fisheries Abstraction Plans in conjunction with the Central Government for information management, analysis, modeling of the structure. The government can develop an Associate in Nursing Integrated Fisheries Development set up, particularly for the islands to boost their share within the economy.
The policy aims at comprehensive development of the fisheries sector through appropriate interventions to handle the important gaps with an overarching goal for growth in exports,
increase in farmers’ financial gain and better options for shoppers. The various steps included aiming to optimally harness and capture the fisheries potential of the country by enhancing fish production and productivity in an accountable and proper manner. Such strong management and restrictive frameworks with necessary legal backing for effective fisheries resource management are providing pathways for the expansion of the sector. These emerging policies and regulations are establishing structured frameworks for the aquaculture and fisheries sector to advance to its full potential.
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