Cabinet approves law to control quality of fish
The cabinet on Monday approved in principle the draft of the Fish and Fish Product (Inspection and Quality Control) Bill, raising the maximum penalty to two-year imprisonment for adulterating fish and fish products, and other offences under the proposed law.
The approval came from the weekly cabinet meeting held at the Prime Minister’s Office on Monday, with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.
"According to clause 20 of the bill, the court can jail anyone for maximum two years or fine Tk5 lakh, or both, for committing offences under the proposed law and its rules," said Cabinet Secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam while briefing reporters at the secretariat after the meeting.
As per the existing Fish and Fish Product (Inspection and Quality Control) Ordinance 1983, the punishment is maximum three months' jail or a fine of Tk5,000 or both, he said.
In the case of repetition of such offences, the punishment will double, the cabinet secretary added.
He further said the administration (authorized or inspection officers) can also fine a maximum Tk5 lakh for such offences according to the proposed law.
He also said the Bangla version of the bill was brought in as the existing ordinance was promulgated during a military regime, which the court declared illegal. The bill was updated to some extent after considering the present context.
Shafiul Alam said no one can export or import fish and fish products without a licence, while farmers cannot run a fish farm without registration as per the bill.
The inspection provision has been made tougher in the bill, to ensure proper inspection and maintaining quality of fish and fish products in case of exports, he added.
According to the bill, adulterating fish and fish products, as well as infiltrating and mixing unwanted material or harmful chemicals with fish and fish products are prohibited, he said, adding that there will be a quality assurance manager under the Fisheries Department.
The cabinet secretary said the use of banned antibiotics and chemicals in fish farms is prohibited for the sake of safe fish production.
No decomposed, contaminated, adulterated fish or fish products can be processed or marketed as per the bill, he added.
The cabinet also approved the draft of the Bangladesh Sugar Crop Research Institute Bill, 2019 to conduct research on other sugar crops alongside sugarcane in the country.
The proposed law will replace the existing Bangladesh Sugarcane Research Institute Act 1996, said Shafiul Alam.
The bill was placed to expand research areas, as sugar is produced not only from sugarcane but also from palm, date, Golpata and other sweet crops and trees.
In addition, the cabinet approved in principle the draft of the Bangladesh Lighthouse Bill, 2019 which updates the existing the Lighthouse Act, 1927, Shafiul Alam said.
As per the bill, a port lighthouse authority will be formed to supervise and run the country's lighthouses.
The cabinet secretary said the levy (charge) collection process of lighthouses has been made easier in the bill.