Posted in Legislative Analysis, Political Institutions on Jul 29, 2019

This Bill’s stated aims are to:

  • support the sustainable development of aquaculture (fish farming)
  • prevent the extinction of fish species
  • preserve fish ecosystems
  • set out the regulatory environment for fisheries, and
  • encourage fishery research and the spread of technical know-how related to fish farming.

Land and water for aquaculture

The Bill establishes lead responsibility for the sustainable development of fish farming with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation (MoALI). It sets out the regulatory environment for the following:

  • Reserved aquaculture land and water under the Department
  • Reserved aquaculture land and water
  • Aquaculture land and water owned by a governmental department, an organsiation or the private

Development and management of aquaculture

The Bill sets out how the Ministry is tasked with formulating, implementing and reviewing policies and plans for aquaculture development, and the preservation of fish resources and ecosystems.

In accordance with its policies, the Ministry must negotiate with State/Region Governments and devise plans to prevent water pollution and create a clean environment for aquaculture. If necessary, it can coordinate with the environmental preservation committee.

The Fishery Department can be empowered through instruction from the Ministry to negotiate with aquaculture groups, enterprises and local people for the preservation of fish resources, including aquatic plants, egg-laying places and other living organisms whose health is related to the maintenance of healthy ecosystems for fish.

The Department may put in place plans for the preservation of aquaculture waters such as fish ponds and associated environments managed by the Ministry. Plans can also be developed to prevent and control fish diseases, conduct research, make field examinations, and coordinate efforts across government departments, other organisations and the private sector. The Department should also distribute research findings for public awareness and put in place an education program. The Department can delegate its duties to an officer not under the gazetted officer or the Department Head from State/Region, Naypyidaw council, district and township.

Granting of MoALI-owned land/water for aquaculture

Private individuals or enterprises will be able to apply for grants of MoALI-owned land and/or water on which they wish to develop aquaculture. Grants will last for not more than 50 years if they are consistent with Ministry policies. It is conditional that grant-holders must develop at least 50% of the granted area for aquaculture within 3 years, and the total area within 5. If these targets are not met, the Department can revoke the grant and will not compensate grantees for their investment to date.

Those who don’t need to apply a grant include former grant holders for the land of the governmental department and organization or for the private land, but they need to apply an aquaculture license.

Applying and issuing licenses

To secure an aquaculture license, applications must be made to the relevant Department Head. The Bill classifies various types of license, as follows:

  • aquaculture on land and water managed by the Ministry,
  • aquaculture on land and water owned by a governmental department or organization, with their consent,
  • aquaculture on farm land allowed by the Central Administrative Body for Farm Land, in line with the Farm Land Law,
  • aquaculture on land allowed by the Central Committee of the Vacant, Fallow and Virgin Lands Management Law,
  • private sector aquaculture business on private land,
  • other licenses allowed by the Department occasionally.

The relevant Department Head can examine, allow and reject license applications. The consent of the Department Head is also needed if the licensee wishes to cease aquaculture, or wishes to transfer the license to another person. License extensions can be arranged 30 days before the expiry by applying to the related Department Head.

Fees

The Department can prescribe a fee for grants and licenses with the consent of the Ministry. License fees are transferred to the Region/State budget, and grant fees to the Union budget.

Examination and execution

The Department can appoint an inspector to examine whether regulations are being followed. The inspector is obliged to ensure the prevention of pollutants entering fisheries, including waste water, chemicals or pesticides. Moreover, the inspector can examine the conduct of aquaculture operations, and has legal powers to enter aquacultural operations and buildings and make arrests if provisions of this law are violated.

Evidence relating to offences can be kept. Confiscations made of fish and other assets as the result of such investigations can be sold with the consent of the Department. Proceeds from these sales will be retained for aquaculture development.

Management procedures

The Department Head or Department can impose management orders for violations of license or grant regulations, falsifications in grant/license application, or failure to abide by relevant bye-laws, orders and directives under this law. Management procedures involve the imposition of a fine following a warning letter, and/or suspension or revocation of the grant or license.

Those who are dissatisfied with any decision of the Department Head can make an appeal to the Department within 30 days. Those dissatisfied with the order or decision of the Department can make an appeal to the Ministry.

Losing and damaging grant or license

If grant or license is lost, a copy can be requested within 15 days from the township Department Head or Department by paying a fee. Following replacement, the original grant and license, if found, cannot be used.

Offences and penalty

Fishery ponds of less than 1,250 square feet, or not more than one pond, are considered allowable for family use. Above this, aquaculture is being carried out without a license and grant/license is transferred without the consent of the Department, there is an imprisonment for a term from a minimum of 3 months to a maximum of 1 year or a fine from a minimum of 100,000 MMK to a maximum of 1 million MMK.

There is an imprisonment for a term from a minimum of 6 months to a maximum of 3 years or a fine from a minimum of 300,000 MMK to a maximum of 3 million MMK for causing obstacles to water transport and water flow in aquaculture waters, causing water pollution or environmental damage. There is also a tax exemption provided for fishing equipment.