Government’s Fisheries Bill 2020 outlines a framework for Bahamians to engage in aquaculture as a business and for subsistence; and lays out the protection of those who plan to go into the development of fish and marine life farms.
The bill, which was tabled in the House of Assembly on Wednesday, lays a pathway for Bahamians to farm fish on a commercial scale, something the Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI) hoped would take off last year with it’s first batch of farmed tilapia.
That process will now be regularized through the development of an aquaculture plan, which the bill calls for.
“The director (of the Department of Marine Resources) shall in consultation with the council, prepare an aquaculture development plan for the approval of the minister,” the bill reads.
“The aquaculture development plan shall have a duration of five years and may be renewed, modified or replaced at the end of each five-year period or as the director deems necessary.”
The bill calls for the aquaculture development plan to include the identification of areas of water or land for the development of aquaculture; aquaculture methods; species of fish to be developed; acceptable drugs and medications to be used in the development of fish crops; water and waste requirements and methods of enforcement.
According to the bill, fish developed for export or domestic use will be subject to inspections and could be seized and destroyed if it is determined there is disease or the threat of an invasive species.
The bill also offers protection from anyone interfering with the aquaculture operations of another individual.
“No person, except an authorized officer, shall interfere with or harvest the product of an aquaculture facility without the written approval of the holder of an aquaculture license,” the bill explains.
Anyone interested in aquaculture will be required to acquire a license . Anyone in breach could be fined up to $100,000 in the case of commercial violations and $10,000 in the case of subsistence developers.