COASTAL AQUACULTURE AUTHORITY (AMENDMENT) BILL 2023
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Context: The Coastal Aquaculture Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2023 was recently passed by both Houses of Parliament of India, is a landmark legislation that aims to boost the coastal aquaculture sector in the country. The Bill introduces several reforms and amendments to the Coastal Aquaculture Authority Act 2005, which was enacted to regulate the coastal aquaculture activities in the coastal areas.
- The Coastal Aquaculture Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2023 seeks to amend the existing Coastal Aquaculture Authority Act, 2005, which established the Coastal Aquaculture Authority for the regulation of coastal aquaculture activities.
Key Features of the Bill
Regulation of Allied Activities
- The original Act regulates coastal aquaculture farms that engage in activities such as culturing shrimp, prawns, or other aquatic life under controlled conditions in saline or brackish water.
- The Bill expands the scope of regulation to include "allied activities" which encompass nucleus breeding centres, hatcheries, broodstock multiplication centres, and farms engaged in coastal aquaculture.
- The Coastal Aquaculture Authority will register and regulate these allied activities as coastal aquaculture units.
Protected Areas and Exemptions
- The Act currently prohibits coastal aquaculture within 200 meters from high tide lines and in certain areas within Coastal Regulation Zones under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
- The Bill replaces these prohibitions, extending the restrictions to ecologically sensitive areas and geo-morphological features like mountains, valleys, or volcanoes.
- Certain exemptions are granted for specific allied activities in designated areas, such as allowing hatcheries and nucleus breeding centres in no-development zones and permitting seaweed culture, pen culture, raft culture, and cage culture activities in Coastal Regulation Zones
Functions and Powers of the Authority
- The Coastal Aquaculture Authority's functions are expanded to include:
- Regulating the construction and operation of aquaculture farms in coastal areas.
- Registering coastal aquaculture farms and allied units.
- Removing or demolishing farms that cause pollution.
- Fixing standards or prohibiting coastal aquaculture inputs to prevent harm to the environment.
- Setting standards, monitoring, and regulating units to prevent diseases.
- Fixing standards for the emission or discharge of effluents from coastal aquaculture units.
Authority's Entry and Waiver of Notice
- The Authority is empowered to authorize personnel to enter coastal aquaculture premises, carry out inspections/surveys, and remove/demolish structures.
- The Bill grants the Authority the ability to waive the requirement of a 24-hour notice to the occupier of the land/enclosure before entering.
Liabilities and Compensation
- The owner of a coastal aquaculture unit is made liable for the cost of demolition during inspections/surveys and the cost of environmental damage resulting from such actions.
Composition of the Authority
- The Authority is composed of 11 members, including a High Court judge (Chair), experts in coastal aquaculture and coastal ecology, representatives from the ministries of agriculture and commerce, and four members from coastal states.
- The Bill introduces a representative from the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying as a member.
Penalties and Enforcement
- The Act's penalties for carrying out coastal aquaculture without registering with the Authority include imprisonment of up to three years, a fine of up to one lakh rupees, or both.
- The Bill replaces this provision with a range of penalties, including suspension of activity, removal/demolition of structures, destruction of standing crops, cancellation of registration, and imposition of fines.
- Different penalties are specified for different contraventions. For instance, non-registration of a coastal aquaculture farm attracts a penalty of Rs 10,000 per hectare for the first offence.
Adjudication and Appeals
- Under the Bill, the central government is authorized to appoint an officer of at least the Under Secretary level to adjudicate penalties.
- An officer of at least the Deputy Secretary level may be authorized as an Appellate Authority to review orders issued by the adjudicating officer.
- The Coastal Aquaculture Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2023 presents a progressive stride towards balanced coastal aquaculture practices. By encompassing allied activities, safeguarding ecologically sensitive areas, and ensuring transparent regulation, the bill underscores environmental protection and sustainable growth. The framework's stringent enforcement provisions, penalties, and adjudication mechanisms establish accountability while promoting responsible practices. With its inclusive composition and enhanced functions, the bill reflects a comprehensive approach that harmonizes coastal aquaculture's economic potential with ecological well-being.
COASTAL AQUACULTURE AUTHORITY (AMENDMENT) BILL 2023: https://www.iasgyan.in/daily-current-affairs/coastal-aquaculture-authority-amendment-bill-2023#:~:text=The%202023%20Bill%20seeks%20to,outdoor%2C%20in%20cement%20cisterns%2C%20ponds
Q. What are the key features of the Coastal Aquaculture Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2023, and how do they aim to address the challenges associated with coastal aquaculture practices? In light of these features, what are the anticipated ways forward to ensure a sustainable and environmentally responsible future for coastal aquaculture?