Marine Laws and Policy

Marine Laws and Policy


Laws Governing Protection of Marine Species

Wild Life Protection Act (WLPA), 1972

The WLPA is the primary law used to protect marine species in India and currently lists forty-one marine species under its various schedules. [11].
 These include species such as the whale shark (Rhincodon typus), seahorses (All Sygnathidians) and certain species of sharks and rays, dugong (Dugong dugon), sea turtles (Chelenioidea), soft (Alcyonacea) and hard (Scleractinia) corals, and sea cucumbers (all holothurians).

The WLPA offers protection to marine species in two ways - (a) by listing specified species under Schedules I-IV of the Act (Schedule I and Part II of Schedule II offer the highest degree of protection); and (b) offering habitat-based protection through the declaration of protected areas (PAs).

  • Regulatory Purview

    1. Central government with power to notify species in order to afford higher/lower protection to the species.
    2. Hunting of listed species prohibited, except with a hunting permit granted for scientific research, education, translocation to an alternative suitable habitat, population management of wildlife and display at museums and similar institutions. [12]. Section 11 of WLPA [13]. Section 12 of WLPA
    3. Possession, transport and trade of animals either prohibited or regulated depending on which schedule, a species is listed under.
    4. Destruction, exploitation or removal of wildlife within PAs prohibited except with a permit that may be granted if these activities improve or help in the management of wildlife.
    5. Contravention of the Act punishable with either imprisonment, or fine, or both.

  • Agencies Responsible for Implementation

    1. Forest, Police Departments and Wildlife Crime Control Bureau empowered to investigate wildlife crimes, implement and enforce the provisions of the Act.
    2. Coastal Police (part of the police force in each coastal state) to assist the Forest Department with implementing and enforcing the WLPA and for along the coasts and near shore habitats including the islands.

[11] Engage local communities to protect marine life: Study, DownToEarth (2019). Available at- news/wildlife-biodiversity/ engage- local -communities -to-protect -marine- life -study- 65273

[12] Section 11 of WLPA

[13] Section 12 of WLPA

Biological Diversity Act, 2002

The Biodiversity Act was introduced to check misappropriation of Indian biological resources and provides access to Indian biological resources and associated knowledge subject to certain restrictions. The Act also empowers (under Section 38) the Central Government to notify any species which is on the verge of extinction or likely to become extinct in the near future as a ‘threatened species.’ For example, the blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus), dugongs (Dugong dugon), the leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), knifetooth sawfish (Anoxypristis cuspidata) and Pondicherry shark (Carcharhinus hemiodon) are some of the marine species that are notified as threatened species by various states under section 38 of the Biodiversity Act.

  • Regulatory Purview

    1. Access to biological resources: requires foreign persons (citizens of other countries or Non-resident Indians) or foreign corporate entities or organizations (entities not registered in India) to take prior permission from the National Biodiversity Authority; and citizens of India or Indian corporate entities and organizations to give prior intimation to the State Biodiversity Boards.
    2. Central government with power to notify threatened species wherein their collection can be prohibited or regulated and appropriate steps taken to rehabilitate and preserve those species.
    3. Contravention of the Act punishable, with either imprisonment or fine or both.

  • Agencies Responsible for Implementation

    1. National Biodiversity Authority (national level) and State Biodiversity Boards (State level) mandated to (a) regulate the use of India’s biological resources; (b) advise the Central and State Governments on matters relating to conservation of biodiversity and sustainable use of resources and (c) aid in selection and management of BHSs.
    2. Biodiversity Management Committees set up at the local level for “promoting conservation, sustainable use and documentation of biological diversity.”
    3. MoEFCC and Forest Officers empowered to enforce the provisions of the Act[14]. uploaded/ pdf/ notification/ enforcement3.pdf , apart from officers of the NBA and SBB.

Indian Forest Act (IFA), 1927

The act passed in 1927, consolidates laws relating to forests, forest produce, their transit and duty leviable over timber and other forest produce. This law is applicable to forest produce found within forest lands (for example: mangroves) and could include timber, leaves, flowers, fruits, grass, creeper, reeds and moss as well as wild animals, their produce and their parts. From the coastal and marine context, this could mean a large range of coastal and marine products found within and above the water.

  • Regulatory Purview

    1. The act regulates movement and transit of forest produce, and duty leviable on timber and other forest produce.
    2. The act lays down forest offences, contravention of which leads to penal consequences.

  • Agencies Responsible for Implementation

    1. The Forest Department of states under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change are the main implementing authority.
    2. The central government and the state government both have the power to make rules through notifications under this act.