The Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Act, No. 2 of 1996, is the principal legal instrument governing the fishing industry of Sri Lanka.
This Act replaced the Fisheries Ordinance of 1940 and all the amendments to it, and provides for the management, regulation, conservation and development of fisheries and aquatic resources in the country.
Under this Act, 23 Regulations have so far been introduced, notably:
• Lobster Fisheries Management Regulations, 2000.
• Purse-seine Net Fishery Regulations.1995.
• Chank Fisheries Management and Export Regulations, 2001.
• Beach Seine Regulations, 1984
• Export and Import of Live Fish Regulations, 1998
Management applied to main fisheries
Current fisheries management and administration has developed from the initial creation of a Department of Fisheries in 1940, under the Fisheries Ordinance promulgated that year. However, it proved inadequate to address the issues in the comparatively more complex fisheries industry that had developed by the late 1970s, and new legislation was introduced: the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Act, No. 2 of 1996.
The main objectives of the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Act are the management, conservation, regulation and development of the fisheries and aquatic resources of Sri Lanka.
Under Sections 31 and 32 of the Act, fisheries management areas and fisheries management authorities have been introduced to manage the fisheries resources of the country. By 2004, seven management areas had been declared under the Act for the management of fisheries resources through community participation.
In addition to the declaration of management areas and management authorities, resource conservation and regulatory functions were also identified and regulations introduced. Areas addressed included:
• Registration of fishing craft Section 15 & 16 of the Act and Regulations imposed
by Gazette No. 109 dated 03.10.1980, No. 1055/13 dated 26.11.1998, and No.
948/24 dated 07.11.1996.
• Fishing operation licenses Sections 6–14 of the Act and Regulation 948/25
• Prohibition of destructive fishing practices and dynamiting of fish Sections 27–29
of the Act.
• Prohibition or Regulation of export and import of fish Section 30 of the Act.
• Declaration of closed and open seasons for fishing Section 34 of the Act.
• Declaration of fishing reserves Sections 36–37 of the Act.
• Aquaculture management licenses Sections 39–43 of the Act.