The ‘Marine Fisheries Bill, 2020’ was passed in Parliament on Monday with a provision for maximum three-year imprisonment or Tk 5 crore fine or both for fishing illegally within Bangladesh’s maritime boundary by any foreign national.
Fisheries and Livestock Minister SM Rezaul Karim moved the Bill in the House and it was passed by voice vote.
There are 12 chapters and 63 clauses in the proposed law which will replace the Marine Fisheries Ordinance which was promulgated during the military regime that was scrapped by the High Court.
As per the existing law, the punishment for illegal fishing by any foreign national in the country's water is three years of imprisonment or Tk one lakh fine, or both.
As per the new law, the government will define the shape of the fishing boat or trawlers. These trawlers will have to take licences before fishing. Currently, licences are given for one year while the proposed law increased it to two years to reduce the hassle and harassment of trawler or boat owners.
The proposed law has defined the import of commercial trawlers, its specification and safety measurements.
The Bill also included the judicial magistrate or mobile court in the proposed law to punish the violators.
For obstructing any official job, damaging fishing trawlers and destroying proof, the punishment will be maximum two years of imprisonment or Tk 10 lakh fine depending on the nature of the crime. The existing punishment is three years of imprisonment and Tk 5,000 to Tk one lakh in fine.
Fishing during a restricted time or in restricted area, fishing without approval for going to sea will be considered as punishable offences.