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This article is written by Anushka Yadav from the Faculty of Law, Aligarh Muslim University. This is an exhaustive article that deals with the provisions of the Coastal Aquaculture Authority Act, 2005. It goes through the significance of aquaculture in India and legislative steps towards it. The functions of the Coastal Aquaculture Authority established by the Act are discussed in detail.

Introduction

The Coastal Aquaculture Authority Act of 2005 came into force from 22nd December 2005. It is an Act which deals with the sustainable development of aquaculture activities in India. The assurance of aquatic resources for future generations. The whole structure and working of the authority are provided under the Act. It provides who can be the members of the authority. The members of the authority are also provided with powers and privileges for their effective functioning. It also provides for the power of the Central Government with regard to the functioning of the Authority. The government is empowered to make guidelines for the implementation of functions provided to the Authority. 

Before going through the provisions provided in the Act, it is necessary to understand the significance of the aquaculture activities for our country. The legislative intent or objective behind the implementation of the Act makes it significant for reading. The facts and figures clearly reveal the increasing demand for seafood that makes it necessary to implement aquaculture activities for the protection of aquatic resources. 

The article specifically for the persons who want to enhance their law career in this field, the person who wants to open an aquacultural farm and wants to apply for its registration, and people interested in this field. It gives an overview of the Act and the Authority established therein. It also provides the important guidelines that are issued by the Central Government by virtue of the power and functions provided by the Act to it. 

Significance of Aquaculture

The increasing demand for seafood cannot be denied. The increasing use of sea animals for consumption has increased the tension because many of the species are in threat of over-exploitation. The statistics are given by ‘Our World in Data’ releases that about 33% of the global fish stocks are overexploited.  The two major factors causing an increase in demand for seafood is as follows:

  1. Increasing Population: ‘The World Population Prospects 2019: Highlights’ report was published by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. It reveals that India is supposed to add about 273 million people till 2050. It also reveals that India is thus supposed to surpass China in terms of the most populous country. 

These statistics are shocking. The continuously increasing population makes it necessary to think about the consumption of such a large population. The consumption of seafood is affected by the increase in population.

  1. Illness: The demand for animal protein is increasing because of increasing illness. The richness of protein in seafood is the need for the cure of the disease. 
  • Fish is a rich source of Omega 3 fatty acids. The consumption of fish is beneficial for the cure of diseases like cancer, high blood pressure, arthritis, and heart diseases. 
  • The immune system of the body is essential in curing diseases. The strengthening of the immune system can be better done by the consumption of seafood. Protection from the disease of COVID-19 can also be prevented from a strong immune system. The presence of high antioxidants in fish and other seafood is beneficial for the strengthening of the immune system.

These facts show that the consumption of seafood is going to increase to be in demand day by day. But this increase in demand for seafood is dangerous for the aquatics of the sea and the coastal environment. The sea animals are exploited faster than they can reproduce. Thus, the sustainable development of coastal areas is necessary. The significance of aquaculture activities responsible for coastal environments. Aquaculture is the process of cultivating aquatic animals for human consumption in a sustainable way. The movements like the ‘blue revolution’ play an important role in focusing our attention on the need and significance of these activities.

The Coastal Aquaculture Authority

The Coastal Aquaculture Authority Act (Act 24 of 2005) was enacted by the Parliament of India on 23rd June 2005. It came into force through notified vide Gazette Notifications, dated 22nd December 2005. The Act implements the mechanism of aquaculture in India. It provides for the establishment of an Aquaculture Authority.

The term “Authority” for the purpose of the Coastal Aquaculture Authority Act, 2005 is defined under Section 2 (1) (a) of the Act. The Authority here means the Coastal Aquaculture Authority that is established for the purpose of enforcement of the Act. The Authority implements the provisions provided in the Act, under the control of the Central Government of India. The Act provides a detailed explanation of the establishment, members, organs, etc., of the Authority. 

Establishment

The establishment of the Coastal Aquaculture Authority is provided in Section 4 (1) of the Act. Section 4 (1) provides that the establishment of the Authority is to be done for the purpose of enforcement of the Act. It is to be established by the Central Government. 

Head OfficeThe head office of the Authority is in Chennai, Tamilnadu. The place of the head office of the Authority was decided by the Central Government by virtue of Section 4 (2).

Objectives

The objective behind the introduction of the Act is the need for aquaculture activities in the country. The Act aims at the following:

  • To regulate the aquaculture activities in the country
  • To control the coastal environment destruction.
  • To produce more protein-rich food for the consumption of the increasing population
  • To provide a livelihood to humans in commercial aquaculture activities
  • To increase the existing species of the aquatic animals and protecting the coastal environment
  • To utilize the aquatic and coastal land in a sustainable way of ensuring enough resources for our future generation

These are the objectives of the enactment of the Act. The implementation of these objectives is done by the measures taken in this direction by the Authority. 

Members

Section 4 (3) of the Act provides those who are supposed to be the members of the Aquaculture Authority. The Act provides that there shall be the following ten members in the Aquaculture Authority:

  1. Chairperson of the Authority, who is the Judge of the High Court;
  2. A member who is an expert in the field of the coastal aquaculture;
  3. A member who is an expert in the field of coastal ecology. Such member is to be nominated by the Department of Ocean Development (DOD) of the Central Government;
  4. A representative of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Central Government;
  5. A representative of the Ministry of Commerce of the Central Government;
  6. Four representatives of the coastal states on the rotation basis. The coastal states of India are Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, and West Bengal. Two coastal union territories are Daman & Diu and Puducherry.
  7. A member secretary.

Appointment of officers, consultants, and other employers 

The Act allows that other than the provided members of the Authority [Section 4 (3)], the Authority is free to appoint other officers or legal consultants or employers as it may feel necessary. This power is given to the Authority by Section 9 of the Act. It is for the convenience of the Authority. 

According to Rule 4 of the Notification issued by the Ministry of Agriculture of the Central Government ( by virtue of the power given to the Central Government in Section 3 of the Act), these members appointed are to be only part-time members and not whole-time members.

Reappointment

According to Section 6 of the Act, any member of the Authority can be re-appointed for the post for a maximum of two consecutive years and not more than that.

Term 

The term of the members and other officials, if appointed, of the Authority is to be three years according to Section 4 (4) of the Act.

Disqualifications

The qualifications of the members of the Authority are clearly provided in Section 4 (3) of the Act. But there are some disqualifications prescribed in Section 4 (5) of the Act for not being a member of the Authority. The prescribed disqualifications are as follows:

  1. A person who is convicted or sentenced to any offence which is supposed to involve moral turpitude cannot be a member of the Authority.
  2. A person of unsound mind. He shall have been declared as a person of unsound mind by a competent court.
  3. A person who is not discharged of his debts.
  4. A person who has been removed or dismissed from any Government service or from any corporation which is owned or controlled by the Government.
  5. A person who is having any other financial interest than in the Authority. Such interest is likely to affect the discharge of his functions as a member of the Authority.

Resignation

  • Resignation of Chairperson of the Authority is to be given by him in writing to the Central Government. Such resignation is to be accepted by the Central Government. From the date of acceptance of the resignation, the office of the Chairperson is deemed to be vacant for the purpose of another appointment.
  • Resignation of the other members of the Authority is to be given in writing to the Chairperson. The Chairperson takes the receipt of resignation and such receipt is to be accepted by the Central Government. The place of the member resigned is deemed to be vacant from the date of acceptance of the resignation for the purpose of another appointment.

Privileges

  • Section 21 of the Act provides the privilege of the members of the Authority of being public servants. All the members, officers, and employees of the Authority are public servants. The definition of ‘Public Servants’ is provided under Section 21 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860). The person who is empowered by the Central Government for exercising any power or duty is a public servant. The members of the Authority come under the ambit of Section 21 of the IPC as expressly provided by the Coastal Authority Act.
  • Section 22 of the Act provides for the protection of the members of the Authority from the legal proceedings for the actions done in good faith while performing their duties or functions. No suit can be filed against the members of the Authority if their actions are of good faith. It makes them able to perform their functions and duties fearlessly. The only thing is that their action must have been taken under the purview of this Act or the notifications, guidelines, or orders issued as prescribed in the Act.

Functions and Powers of the Authority

Section 11 of the Act provides for the functions to be performed by the Authority. 

  1. Forming Rules and Regulations – The main purpose of the Authority is to make regulations. The Act aims at establishing and operating aquaculture farms in India. The rules and regulations for the operation of these farms are to be introduced by the Authority.
  2. Conducting Inspection – While conducting their operation, the farms are not to destroy the environment of the coast. The impact of aquaculture is to be inspected or checked by the Authority so that it won’t get harmful for the coastal environment.
  3. Registering Farms – The registration of the aquaculture farms is made necessary by the Act for the purpose that no such farm could destroy the norms set by the Authority and the Act. It is the obligation of the Authority to establish the process for the registration of these farms and register the farms for their operation.
  4. Removing or demolishing the Farms – The Authority is to inspect if any farm is polluting the environment. If there is any such case, then the Authority is supposed to remove or demolish the farm. 
  5. Other Prescribed Functions – The Authority has to perform other functions if prescribed by the Central Government.

The other functions for the Authority by the Central Government are prescribed under Rule 5 of the Notification issued by the Ministry of Agriculture of the Central Government on 22nd December 2005. The functions prescribed by the Government are provided below:

  • The Authority is to check and ensure that the area converted for the construction of the coastal aquaculture farm shall not fall under any of the following categories:
  1. Agricultural land;
  2. Salt pan lands;
  3. Mangroves;
  4. Wetlands;
  5. Forestlands;
  6. Land for common purposes in the village;
  7. Lands for public purposes;
  8. National parks and sanctuaries lands
  • It has to conduct surveys on the entire coastal area of India. 
  • It is its function to give recommendations on the strategies to be adopted for the development and benefit of the coastal environment to the Central and State Governments.
  • Conducting investigations and studies for the purpose of perseverance of the coastal environment;
  • Making policies for the use of eco-friendly technologies;
  • Conducting sustainable utilization of the coastal area’s programs through media or other modes of communication;
  • Forming of the committees, sub-committees, working groups, sub-groups for the purpose of effective administration of the coastal areas;
  • The determination of pay and allowances of the employees of these committees or working groups. The determination of the process of leave and all other terms and conditions are also to be taken by the Authority itself;
  • Recommending the Central Government for the amendment of its guidelines for making it more adaptable to the changing technologies and new farming practices;
  • Issue the directions to the owners of the farms for the implementation of the coastal environment-friendly operations. The impact of the following activities on the coastal environment is to be minimized by the issue of directions:
  1. Stocking density
  2. Use of antibiotics
  3. Use of chemicals
  4. Use of other pharmacologically active compounds
  • Ordering closure of the farms seasonally for the purpose of sustainable development;
  • Cancellation of the registration of the farms. Before the cancellation of the registration, the owner of the farm is to be given the opportunity to be heard and represent himself. Such cancellation is to be done on the following grounds :
    • Furnishing false information in the application for the registration of the farm to the Authority, or
    • Not following the rules and regulations set out by the Authority for the farms

Power of the Central Government

The Central Government is provided with some powers for the regulation and implementation of the Act. The powers provided to it in the Act are provided below:

  • Section 3 of the Act provides the power on the Central Government with the following powers:
    • Issue guidelines for the purpose of regulation of the coastal activities by the Authority. Such guidelines are to be issued to provide the Authority with its functions that are necessary for the regulation of the aquaculture activities.
    • Another important power provided by the Act is to take necessary measures for the protection of the environment. The Government is to ensure that the aquaculture activities should not violate the coastal environment of the country. Responsible coastal activities are to be ensured. The measures to protect the coastal environment, as well as the livelihood of people, are to be taken by the Government through these guidelines.
  • Section 24 of the Act provides the Government with the power to make rules for the implementation of the provisions of the Act. The rules made by it shall cover the following matters:
    • Related to the guidelines issued for the Authority as per Section 3 of the Act;
    • Related to the salaries and allowances payable to the members of the Authority;
    • Related to the terms and conditions of services of the members of the Authority;
    • Section 11 (2) of the Act provides for the power of the Authority to remove any aquaculture farm if it is satisfied that the operation farm is harmful to the coastal environment. It provides that if an aquaculture farm is removed by the Authority then the Authority has to appoint a one-member committee for the payment of compensation to the workers of the farm. Such compensation is decided by that one-member authority as a settlement between the workers and the management of the farm.
    • Such one-member authority is permitted to perform some powers of a District Magistrate for the completion of its function. These powers are to be decided by the Central Government through making the rules as per Section 24 (2) (d);
    • Related to the matter of entering any coastal aquaculture land, pond, pen or enclosure ( as provided in Section 12 of the Act);
    • The rules related to forms for application for registration of farms and the processing fees are to be made by the Government;
    • Related to the manner of considering the application for registration by the authorities;
    • Related to the certificate of registration [as provided in Section 13 (6) of the Act];
    • Related to the manner of making budgets for the Authority and the duration or time period after which it should be made;
    • Related to the preparation of the annual report (as provided in Section 19 of the Act);
    • Related to the maintenance of the books of account of the Authority.
  • Section 23 of the Act provided the Central Government with the power of removing such provisions of the Act which creates difficulty for the implementations of the provisions of the Act. Such removal was to be made by publishing in the Official Gazette. But such power was only valid for the period of two years from the commencement date of the Act. Thus, this power is not valid to the Government now. 

Registration of Aquaculture Farms

It is necessary for the aquaculture farms to register under the Authority. The process of applying for registration is provided under Section 13 of the Act. A person who is applying for the registration of a farm may operate the farm before the approval of the application requested before the authorities limited to a period of three months. Within three months the respective authorities are to approve or disapprove such application. The farm ceases to operate if the Authority disapproves the application for registration made by the farm. 

Term of registration

The term for which the registration of a farm is valid is five years. After the completion of five years that registration ceases to be valid. Thus, for the further operation of the farm, a new application is to be made. Such renewal of the registration is again provided for five years.

The step-by-step process of registration of a new aquacultural farm is given below

Step 1 – District Level Committee: The application for the registration of the farm is to be filed before the District Level Committee. The application form for the registration is available in the respective DLC offices or the Authority office. It is also available online on the website of the respective DLC. 

  • Fees: Fees are to be paid to the Member Convenor of the DLC. It is to be paid in the form of Demand Draft (DD). It is specified as per each hectare (ha) area. 
  • Disposing Applications: After the verification, the DLC takes further steps regarding the applications. When the DCL is satisfied with the information/particulars given in the application and the appliance of guidelines specified by the Authority, then recommends the application to be forwarded to further.
  • If the aquaculture farm is above 2.0 ha of area, then the DLC recommends such an application to the State Level Committee (SLC).
  • In case of any defect in the application is found by the DLC, then it communicates such defect and requests for the fulfilment of such defect to the applicator. 

If the defects are fulfilled in the specified time, the DLC approves the application, and if not then it rejects the application. 

  • Verification: The DCL does the verification of the information and particulars given to it in the application. The farm that makes the application is verified to be applying to the norms and standards made by the Authority.

Step 2 – State Level Committee: After getting verified at the district level, the application is forwarded to the State Level Committee (SLC). The SLC does consider the application and recommends the application for further process to the Coastal Aquaculture Authority.

Step 3 – The Coastal Aquaculture Authority: The final approval of the application is done by the Coastal Aquaculture Authority.

Certificate of Registration: On the approval of the application for registration, a certificate of registration is provided by the Authority.

Application for renewal of the registration

The registration provided by the Authority ceases to be valid after five years. Thus, for further operation of the farm, the application is to be made for renewable registration. 

  • Application for renewal of registration is to be made before two months from the expiry of old registration. 
  • Such renewal of registration is done by the Authority for a further period of five years.
  • Such an application is again to be made in the same manner as the application made for a new farm. 
  • The application is to be made to the respective District Level Committee (DLC) in the same manner providing all such information required. Fees to be paid for such an application is the same as the provided fees for a fresh application on the basis of area per hectare. After the verification, the application is recommended to the State Level Committee (SLC).
  • The State Level Committee after considering the application for renewal of registration recommends it further to the Coastal Aquaculture Authority (CAA).
  • The CAA on satisfaction approves the renewal of registration for a further period of five years.
  • The application for renewal of the registration may be rejected on the ground of harmfulness to the coastal environment. If the farm is found to be indulged in the activities that violate the standards set by the Authority for the protection of the coastal environment, then the Authority is empowered to reject its application. 
  • In case of rejection of application for registration, the farm may appeal to the Chairman of the Authority within a period of thirty days.

Information to be granted for the application

The following information is to be granted to the authorities for verification in the application for registration:

  1. Name of the applicant or registered company;
  2. Address (available for communication);
  3. Details of the land (address, area, ownership, etc);
  4. Water sources;
  5. Date of commencement of operation of the farm;
  6. Details of the use of materials impacting the coastal environment;
  7. Details of the processing fees

Punishment for operating farm without registration

Section 13 (1) of the Act makes it necessary to take the certificate of registration for the operation of the farm. No such farm shall be operated without a valid registration by the Authority. 

If any farm is operated without valid registration, then such a farm is subjected to the liability to be punished under Section 14 of the Act. Section 14 provides for the punishment of imprisonment for a maximum three years, or with a fine of maximum one lakh rupees, or with both.

Important Websites for Updates

Here are some important websites that can keep you updated about the actions and notifications of Government regarding the aquaculture activities in India:

Conclusion

The need and importance of aquaculture is the increasing demand for seafood consumption by increasing the population in the country. The Coastal Aquaculture Authority Act, 2005 is a comprehensive legislature regulating the aquaculture activities. The Act deals with the introduction of the Coastal Aquaculture Authority for implementing the provisions and the objective behind the Act. 

The Act is very comprehensive to cover necessary aspects of sustainable aquaculture activities and environmental protection. But the changing time is changing and introducing new environmentally friendly technologies. So, regular surveys, studies, and other measures are necessary to keep the aquaculture activities more updated and inconsistent with the development of the environment. 

The regular recommendations from the Authority for the introduction of new agricultural practices and technologies is the soul of the objectives of the Act. The updated issuing of guidelines by the Central Government on the recommendations of the Authority is in the benefit of the Act. 

References

  1. The World population prospects 2019: Highlights report; available at – https://population.un.org/wpp/Publications/Files/WPP2019_Highlights.pdf (Last accessed at 05-07-2020)
  2. Our World in data; available at –  https://ourworldindata.org/ (Last accessed at 05-07-2020) 

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