New lease application - information kit

When is an application for a new aquaculture lease required?

An application for an aquaculture lease is required when a person or corporation wishes to develop an area of public water land for aquaculture purposes.  An application may be submitted for an area with no history of oyster cultivation, or for a previously leased area where the former lease is no longer current.

Is an aquaculture permit required to carry out oyster farming on an aquaculture lease?

Yes. A person or corporation must not undertake oyster farming activities except under the authority of a class A aquaculture permit.

How do I know if the area I wish to apply for has been assessed as suitable for oyster aquaculture?

Lease areas that are defined as Priority Oyster Aquaculture Area (POAA) under the NSW Oyster Industry Sustainable Aquaculture Strategy 2021 (OISAS) can be found on the DPI Spatial Portal. Lease maps on the spatial portal are colour coded, showing POAA as ‘green zones’. These areas have been assessed as being suitable for oyster aquaculture.

How do I apply for a new aquaculture lease?

Initially, you must submit a preliminary application for a new lease. This allows NSW DPI to undertake a preliminary assessment of the proposed area, to ensure that it is available and suitable for oyster aquaculture.  There is no fee for this application.

If NSW DPI supports your application, the proposed lease will be offered via a competitive tender process. If you decide to tender for the proposed lease, you will need to formally apply for the lease as part of your tender submission. If you are the successful tenderer, you will be required to pay the prescribed application fee.

Will a Development Application (DA) be required?

An application for a POAA will be assessed under part 5 of the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act 1979) and will not require development consent.

An application for an area outside POAA will be assessed under part 4 of the EP&A Act 1979 and will need:

  • Landowners consent through Crown Lands
  • Development consent through the local Council.

Additional fees and charges may be payable to Crown Lands and Council for these applications, which are assessed under an “integrated approvals” process.

Do not lodge an application with Crown Lands or your local Council for a proposed lease area until you have been advised to do so by NSW DPI.

Will a lease be granted by NSW DPI if Council refuses the development application?

No. Where Council refuses consent, NSW DPI is not authorised to grant the lease.

Can I apply for a lease area that is within a marine park or National Park estate?

Yes, however these applications may require additional approvals by the relevant agencies. For more information on these approvals, refer to chapter 9 of the NSW Oyster Industry Sustainable Aquaculture Strategy 2021 (OISAS).

Can NSW DPI grant a lease to an applicant without offering that lease through a competitive process?

No. All proposed new leases will be allocated by a competitive allocation process unless the application meets an exemption under NSW DPI’s Lease Allocation Policy. The method of competitive allocation is via a public tender unless the State and/or public interest would be best served by allocation of the lease area by auction or ballot.

Why are lease areas allocated by a competitive process?

To maximise the return to the community for the allocation of a public resource for a private/commercial use, and to meet good governance standards by providing equal access to a public resource in a fair and transparent process.

What happens after a preliminary new lease application is lodged?

NSW DPI will assess the application to determine if:

  • the lease area is available and suitable for oyster farming.
  • any additional approvals are required (e.g. development consent).
  • a new lease plan is required as part of the application process.

If NSW DPI supports the preliminary application, the proposed lease will be added to the list of leases to be offered in the next lease tender process.

What happens during a competitive lease tender process?

NSW DPI holds 2 tenders each year in March/April and in September/October.

When NSW DPI decides to hold a lease tender process, the department will:

  • publish details of the tender in the NSW Government Gazette and on the department’s website. A Request for Tender document is made available, which has all the terms and conditions of the tender.
  • provide details of the tender to any party who submitted a preliminary application for a lease area being offered.
  • notify all current class A permit holders that a tender is about to commence.
  • notify the NSW Farmers Association that a tender is about to commence.

The tender will be open for a minimum of 4 weeks. The Request for Tender will provide the closing date of the tender.

Once the tender closes, the Aquaculture Lease Tender Committee (ALTC) will meet to assess all tenders that have been submitted. The ALTC consists of two senior officers from the Aquaculture unit and an officer from NSW DPI Corporate Services.

NSW DPI will notify the successful tenderers of the outcome, who will be required to meet certain requirements within a specified timeframe. If a successful tenderer does not meet these requirements, the lease area will be offered to the next preferred tenderer.

Who is eligible to participate in a tender process?

To participate in a competitive tender process, a person or corporation must:

  • hold a current class A or B aquaculture permit, or
  • have submitted an application for a new class A or B permit, which has been assessed and supported by NSW DPI prior to the tender closing date, or
  • have an agreement with a current class A or B permit holder to sublet any leases successfully tendered for.

What are the main requirements for the tender process?

All persons or corporations who wish to participate in the tender process need to submit the tender form (section E of the Request for Tender).  On this form, the tenderer must specify what leases they are tendering for and the tender premium they are offering for each lease.

The tender form must be submitted in line with the instructions provided in the Request for Tender. This includes attaching the relevant new lease application form.

Is the tender premium or application fee refunded if the application is withdrawn or refused?

If, for any reason, the lease is not granted to the successful tenderer or the successful tenderer withdraws their application after the premium has been paid, the tender premium (less the minimum tender premium) may be refunded at the discretion of NSW DPI. The new lease application fee is not refundable.

Will the lease need to be surveyed and a new lease plan generated as part of the application process?

If a lease survey and new lease plan is required for a lease area, this will be specified in the Request for Tender document.

For more information on aquaculture lease surveys, refer to the lease survey specifications.

Do not organise for a lease survey to be completed unless NSW DPI has given this advice. Likewise, do not place lease marker posts or buoys on a proposed lease area until you are directed to do so by NSW DPI.

What happens if clean-up work is required on a new lease area?

Where there are derelict cultivation materials, markings and/or structures present on a lease area that has been offered at tender, the local Fisheries Officer will inspect the lease following its granting. If required, the Fisheries Officer will issue a Notice to Comply to the new permit holder for any required clean-up work.

Who is responsible for ordering and installing lease markings and lease signs?

Once a lease has been granted, NSW DPI will provide the lessee with details of the lease marking and lease sign requirements. The lessee is responsible for the installation of lease markings and signs within the timeframe given.

Lease sign specifications are outlined in the NSW Aquaculture Industry Sustainable Aquaculture Strategy 2021 (OISAS).

What fees and charges are payable for a new aquaculture lease?

After a lease has been granted, the following fees will be payable:

  • Lease rent is payable per hectare, or part thereof, per annum (including GST).
  • Annual permit contribution is a set fee that is payable for all Class A permits.
  • Annual research contribution is payable per hectare, or part thereof, per annum.
  • Lease security is payable per hectare, or part thereof, per annum (unless the permit holder has a refundable lease security arrangement).

If required, lease and permit fees will be charged to the relevant customer account from the date a new lease is granted.

For more information on these fees, refer to the aquaculture fee schedule.

Where can more information about applying for a new aquaculture lease be obtained?

For more information, contact Aquaculture Administration via email at

Application checklist

This checklist will help you to lodge a successful application.

  • Have you contacted NSW DPI to discuss your proposal?
  • Have you completed every section of the relevant application form?
  • If the proposed lease is not over a previously leased area, have you attached to your application a map of the proposed boundaries?
  • Have you paid any outstanding aquaculture lease or permit fees?
  • Have you addressed all outstanding clean up responsibilities on any terminated lease area?