Cabinet Okays draft Fisheries Quarantine Act

DHAKA- The Cabinet today approved the draft of a new law, Fisheries Quarantine Act, 2017, restricting import of any fish, fish goods, related microorganisms or packaging of fish items without license and prior government permission.

"The new law will control the contraband fish species and damaging or pernicious bacteria which accompany the various types of imported fishes and fish fries," Cabinet Secretary M Shafiul Alam told a media briefing emerging from the weekly cabinet meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair at Bangladesh Secretariat.

He said the draft law was part of government initiative to protect the growing fisheries from destructive alien elements.

"The law would empower the government to impose restriction on import of any particular species of fish or fish items in public interest," the cabinet secretary said.

The new law would be a safeguard to prevent import of the fish species like Piranha, African Magur and other fishes while their production, breeding, marketing, sale and transport, however, were prohibited in the country.

Under the law the imported fishes, fish items, useful living microorganisms or packaged fish items would be kept in quarantine in designated areas or "fisheries Quarantine Stations" for a certain period for inspection as per instruction of the concerned officer.

The quarantine stations would be set up in the seaports, land ports or airports of the country.

According to the cabinet secretary the Directorate General of Fisheries would act as the 'authority' for execution of the law and its Director General would be the head of the authority.

The law also proposed constitution of a committee through gazette notification to recommend the government on the matter time to time.

Under the law, Alam said, the government through necessary gazette notification can restrict intrusion, purchase, sale, culture, breeding and transport of any fish, fish items, useful microorganisms, genetically modified organism, living modified organism and alien invasive species.

"In case of detection of any disease of fishes or anything contamination of the fishes should be reported by the owner of the pond, water body or dighi to the nearest fishery officials," he said referring to a provision of the law.

Violation of the law would be treated as a non-cognizable offense and one could be exposed to two years of imprisonment and penalty of Taka five lakh or both for its defiance.

"Judicial courts and mobile courts would have the power to take the offenses into their cognizance," the cabinet secretary said.

At the beginning of the cabinet discussed a Cabinet Division report on quarterly progress of the implementation of the cabinet decisions. The meeting was told that in the first quarter (From January to March, 2017) the cabinet has adopted 101 decisions in ten meetings. Out of the decisions, 47 were already executed and 54 remained under implementation.

During that period the government framed five policies and working strategies and signed eight Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with foreign countries.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)