Frequently Asked Questions

What is aquaculture?

Aquaculture is defined by the Fisheries Management Act 1994 as cultivating fish or marine vegetation (including crustaceans, invertebrates, marine plants etc) for the purposes of sale, trade or barter.

Do I need a permit to conduct aquaculture?

Aquaculture as defined by the Fisheries Management Act 1994 does require a permit.  There are different types of permit depending on the type of activity you are doing, covering everything from hatchery, fishout, land and lease based culture.  More information on the types of permits and the permit application process can be obtained from the department's web site or by talking to staff from the Aquaculture unit.  If you only wish to produce fish in farm dams for your own consumption, an aquaculture permit is not required.

Do I need an aquaculture permit to breed aquarium/ornamental fish?

If you intend to bred and sell any aquarium/ornamental fish and your facility has a water holding capacity of 10,000 litres or more you will require an aquaculture permit.

Once I have an aquaculture permit, where can I sell my product?

Holding an aquaculture permit allows you to sell your product direct to retailers, the public or other markets eg restaurants and clubs, or through registered fish markets such as the Sydney Fish Markets.  More information on available markets can be obtained by speaking to the various aquaculture associations, or by speaking to the Sydney Fish Markets.  

How much will a permit cost me?

Aquaculture permit costs vary depending on the type of permit you are applying for. There are also annual fees attached to aquaculture permits.  Aquaculture businesses are required to pay an annual permit administration fee and an annual research contribution.  Aquaculture businesses operating on public waters such as oyster farming are required to pay the annual permit administration, research contribution, lease rental and elect a lease security arrangement.  A Schedule of Aquaculture Fees and Charges is available.  More information can be obtained by speaking to staff from the Aquaculture unit.

Where are the best places to put an aquaculture farm?

There are specific criteria that must be considered when investigating a potential site for aquaculture.  These include water access, topography, climate, soil type, and proximity to markets, support and infrastructure.

The NSW Land Based Sustainable Aquaculture Strategy includes sections on site selection and design of aquaculture facilities, and mapping of potential estuarine culture sites using GIS technology. These maps take into account factors such as proximity to flood heights, acid sulphate soils, and water, and provide a good general guide for investors to narrow the search.  

For oyster farming information the NSW Oyster Industry Sustainable Aquaculture Strategy (OISAS) is available. The OISAS document identifies suitable oyster aquaculture sites within the State.

The sustainable aquaculture strategies aim to promote community and industry confidence in the continued development of an environmentally and economically sustainable aquaculture industry.

See also Land use planning: Aquaculture.

Can the department provide me with any funding to start an aquaculture farm?

The department is not a grant funding agency, and cannot provide financial support to any project for the purposes of establishing or operating an aquaculture operation. The department can however assist with sourcing funding from other agencies, by providing details on funding schemes and contacts.

Are there any aquaculture associations or support groups?

Yes, there are a number of aquaculture associations that cover a wide range of aquaculture sectors.  There is a list of these associations in the NSW Aquaculture Industry Directory or contact the Aquaculture staff.

Do I need a permit to stock my farm dam with fish or yabbies?

No - a permit is not required provided that the farm dam is man-made and located on a private property, and the species to be stocked comply with all of the department's policy.

What type of fish are suitable for stocking into my farm dam?

The fact sheet Stocking Fish in Farm Dams, details the most appropriate species for stocking, stocking densities etc and should answer any questions on this matter you may have.

Where can I obtain fingerlings to stock my farm dam?

Fingerlings can be obtained from any hatchery with a license to produce that particular species.

Do I need a permit to stock fish into natural waterways or impoundments?

Yes - a permit is required to stock fish into any public impoundment, natural waterway, river, billabong, lake, wetland, stream etc.  For more information of stocking permits and the department's dollar-for-dollar native fish stocking scheme contact the recreational fisheries branch on (02) 4916 3835.

What educational courses are available for aquaculture?

There are a number of courses on aquaculture available, both through Universities and TAFE.

How much is NSW aquaculture worth?

See the Aquaculture Production Reports for details on the aquaculture industry in NSW. 

Where can I find more information on aquaculture?

You will find general and specific information about aquaculture on the departments website. This web site also has links to a number of other useful sites. 

If after looking through the information on the departments website further information is required, please contact the Aquaculture unit at Port Stephens Fisheries Institute on (02) 4982 1232.