The Bill proposed a maximum of three years imprisonment or a monetary fine of a minimum Tk2crore and a maximum Tk5crore for maritime pollution
The Territorial Waters and Maritime Zones (Amendment) Act, 2021 was placed in Parliament on Thursday to make it a more time-befitting one so that evolving issues can be dealt with properly.
The proposed law will establish Bangladesh’s sovereignty over its maritime boundary which will facilitate search and extraction of marine resources.
Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen initiated the Bill and was sent to the respective parliamentary standing committee for deeper scrutiny.
The committee was asked to submit its report within 45 days.
The previous law, which was enacted in 1974, needed to be amended amid the evolving situation.
The Bill proposed a maximum of three years imprisonment or a monetary fine of a minimum Tk2crore and a maximum Tk5crore for maritime pollution.
Previously the punishment was one-year imprisonment and Tk 5,000 fine in the previous law.
The new draft also includes a provision for the punishment for offences in Exclusive Economic Zone, Continental Shelf and Contiguous Zone.
The provisions of video, photo, electronic records have also been included as evidence in proving the offences and incidents in the sea as the witness of most of the offences are not found in the alien nature of crimes.
Thirty-five new sections have been incorporated in the proposed law, including the provision of criminal jurisdiction and civil jurisdiction in the entry of foreign vessels and submarines into Bangladesh maritime boundary.
It defines remotely operated underwater vehicles, autonomous underwater vehicles, and unmanned underwater vehicles.
The Bill extended the boundary of the contiguous zone, which is a band of water extending farther from the outer edge of the territorial sea to up to 24 nautical miles from the baseline to 24 miles from 18 miles.
The Economic Zone is replaced by the exclusive economic zone. This has been done in line with the definition of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) to establish absolute sovereignty over the marine boundary and its assets.
Under UNCLOS-1982, all coastal countries are granted the sovereign right to a stretch of the sea extending 200 nautical miles beyond their coast, which is known as an exclusive economic zone.