Territorial Waters, Maritime Zones (Amendment) Act-2021 passed in JS
Published: 05:07 PM, 28 November 2021
Jatiya Sangsad; File Photo
‘Territorial Waters and Maritime Zones (Amendment) Act 2021’ was passed in the Jatiya Sangsad today aiming to establish Bangladesh’s sovereignty over its maritime boundary and assets and facilitate the search and extraction of marine resources.
Foreign Minister Dr. A K Abdul Momen placed the bill at the House which was unanimously passed by voice votes with Speaker Dr. Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury in the chair on Sunday.
Placing the bill, the minister said the proposed law will be enacted through amending the Territorial Waters and Maritime Zones Act-1974.
Earlier, the new draft bill 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.
35 new sections are incorporated in the fresh draft including the provision of criminal jurisdiction and civil jurisdiction in the 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 the Contiguous Zone which was extended to 24 miles from 18 miles in an 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 establish absolute sovereignty over the marine boundary and its assets.
Under UNCLOS-1982, all coastal countries are granted sovereign right to stretch the sea up to 200 nautical miles beyond their coast, which is known as an exclusive economic zone.
The new draft proposes a maximum of three years imprisonment or a monetary fine of minimum Tk 2 crore and a maximum of Tk 5 crore for maritime pollution which was one-year imprisonment and a Tk 5,000 fine in the old law.
The new one has also included the provision of punishment for offense in Exclusive Economic Zone, Continental Shelf and Contiguous Zone.
Provision of video, photo, electronics records was included as evidence in proving the offenses and incidents in the sea as the witness of most of the offenses were not found in the alien nature of crimes.