Territorial Waters and Maritime Zones (Amendment) Act-2021 passed in JS

Territorial Waters and Maritime Zones (Amendment) Act-2021 passed in JS


DHAKA, Nov 28, 2021 (BSS) –

‘Territorial Waters and Maritime Zones
(Amendment) Act 2021’ was passed in the parliament today aiming to establish
Bangladesh’s sovereignty over its maritime boundary and assets and to
facilitate 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.

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.

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

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 establish absolute sovereignty over the marine boundary and
its assets.

Under UNCLOS-1982, all coastal countries are granted sovereign right to
stretch of sea up to 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 one was also included provision of 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 in the alien nature of crimes.