May 13, 2021, 10:24 pm

Staff Correspondent

2021-05-04 06:11:26 BdST

Cabinet nods amending maritime law for better resource extraction

The cabinet on Monday approved the draft of ‘Territorial Waters and Maritime Zones (Amendment) Act 2021’ aiming to establish Bangladesh’s sovereignty over its maritime boundary and assets and to facilitate search and extraction of marine resources.

The foreign ministry placed the draft proposal to the cabinet for its approval after the law ministry vetted it.

The new draft was approved at a regular cabinet meeting held with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair although the first draft act was approved on November 20, 2019.

Thirty-five new sections are incorporated in the fresh draft including the provision of criminal jurisdiction and civil jurisdiction in entry of foreign vessels and submarines into Bangladesh maritime boundary.

The draft also defines Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicle, Autonomous Underwater Vehicle, and Unmanned Underwater Vehicle to make the law up to date.

It also clearly outlines the boundary of Contiguous Zone which was extended to 24 miles from 18 miles in old draft.

Contiguous Zone is a band of water extending farther from the outer edge of the territorial sea to up to 24 nautical miles from the baseline.

Economic Zone is replaced by Exclusive Economic Zone in the fresh draft in line with the definition of United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS-1982) to established absolute sovereignty over the marine boundary and its assets.

Under UNCLOS-1982, all coastal countries are granted sovereign right to stretch of sea extending 200 nautical miles beyond their coast, which is known as exclusive economic zone.

The new draft proposes maximum three years imprisonment or a monetary fine of minimum Tk 2 crore and maximum Tk 5 crore for maritime pollution which was one-year imprisonment and Tk 5,000 fine in the old law.

The new draft was also includes provision for punishment for offence in Exclusive Economic Zone, Continental Shelf and Contiguous Zone.

Provision of video, photo, electronics records was included as evidence in proving the offences and incidents in the sea as the witness of most of the offences were not found given the alien nature of crimes.

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