Renew aquaculture lease - information kit

Why does an aquaculture lease need to be renewed?

The maximum term of an aquaculture lease is 15 years. A renewal application is required when a lease is about to expire and the lessee wants to renew the lease for a further term.

When can an aquaculture lease be renewed?

NSW DPI sends a reminder notice to the lessee at least 90 days before a lease is due to expire. This notice invites the lessee to renew their lease. If a lessee wants to renew their lease earlier, a duly made application may be lodged within 12 months before the expiry date.

How is an application to renew a lease duly made?

  • Complete the lease renewal application form (link provided above). This involves completing every section of the form in clear and legible print. Ensure all lessees sign the form. An incomplete application form will be rejected.
  • Submit payment of the application fee (refer to the aquaculture fee schedule).

When does a lease renewal application need to be lodged?

An application to renew a lease must be received before the expiry date of the lease. A renewal application lodged after the expiry date must include a reason as to why the application is late.

An application received more than 30 days after the expiry date will be rejected.

Does the lessee have a right of renewal?

If a lessee applies to renew a lease and it is the first renewal after the lease has been granted, the lessee has a preferential right to a further lease of the area against any other applicant, provided the renewal application is duly made and received before the expiry date of the lease.

The preferential right exists only when the Minister is satisfied that:

  • the lessee has observed and performed the covenants and conditions of the lease, and
  • the area is available for aquaculture.

Will the lease area need to be surveyed?

Not unless the current lease area is inconsistent with the existing lease plan, or there is another issue with the lease boundaries (for example, the lease is overlapping the cadastral boundary). In these cases, the Minister may require that the area is surveyed at the expense of the lessee before the renewal can be progressed.

What is lease tenancy?

A lease may be held under either a Common tenancy or Joint tenancy arrangement.

Under Joint tenancy, following the death of one of the lessees, the lease is automatically transmitted to any surviving lessees. Only leases held by a partnership can be held under a Joint tenancy arrangement.

Under Common tenancy, the portion of the lease held by the deceased lessee is transmitted according to their Last Will and Testament and/or at the direction of the Executor of the Estate. For leases held by an individual or company, the tenancy arrangement will default to Common tenancy.

The tenancy arrangement can be adjusted at the time of renewal, as there is a section in the application form asking the lessee to confirm the tenancy arrangement for the lease being renewed. If this section is left blank, the previous tenancy agreement is maintained.

A lessee can request a change to the tenancy arrangement on their current leases at any time in writing. The only time when this cannot occur is when the leases are already affected by the death of a lessee and are pending transmission.

What if the lessee wants to change cultivation methods on their lease?

Cultivation methods suitable for oyster aquaculture areas are specified in the NSW Oyster Industry Sustainable Aquaculture Strategy 2021 (OISAS).

Any proposed changes that are different to the methods specified in OISAS (including lease markings) must be applied for via a Vary Lease application. Each application will be assessed in accordance with the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act 1979). This ensures the activity is acceptable to the Minister and does not damage the environment.

Approval from NSW DPI is also required if the lessee would like to:

  • install floating markers.
  • install a fence or wave barrier.

New platforms and sheds are not permissible on an aquaculture lease and will not be approved. Any person who undertakes an activity on a lease, which is not approved by the Minister, is at risk of having their lease and/or aquaculture permit cancelled.

How can the lease renewal application fee be paid?

Payment options are provided on the lease renewal application form.

Is the application fee refundable if the application is withdrawn or refused?

If an application to renew an aquaculture lease is withdrawn or refused, NSW DPI is not required to refund the application fee. NSW DPI may refund a portion of the fee if appropriate.

What happens after an application to renew a lease is lodged?

NSW DPI will check to ensure the lessee has addressed all matters relating to the renewal. If anything is missing or outstanding, the application will not be progressed until the outstanding requirements are met. If these are not met in a reasonable timeframe, the application may be refused.

Once all requirements are met, NSW DPI will generate new lease documents, which will be sent to the lessee for signing. There are 2 copies of the lease documents - original and duplicate - and both must be signed, witnessed and returned to NSW DPI within 60 days. Failure to return the lease documents within this timeframe may result in the refusal of the renewal application.

If the lease documents are returned within the 60-day timeframe, NSW DPI will finalise the renewal and publish the details in the NSW Government Gazette. The original lease documents will be returned to the lessee for safekeeping.

When would an application to renew a lease be refused?

An application for the renewal of an aquaculture lease may be refused if:

  • the applicant is disqualified from holding an aquaculture permit.
  • the applicant fails to submit or complete any requirements of the transaction within a specified timeframe.
  • the applicant has aquaculture debt that is outstanding for more than 90 days.
  • the applicant has failed to clean up a previously terminated lease area.
  • the renewal of the lease is not in the public interest.

Before an application is refused, NSW DPI may write to the applicant inviting them to lodge objections to the refusal of the application.

Does the lease have to be covered by public liability insurance?

Yes. All aquaculture leases must be covered by public liability insurance. This is the responsibility of the permit holder who is operating the lease under their permit. NSW DPI undertakes regular audits to ensure permit holders have public liability insurance for the leases held under their permit.

What if a lessee chooses not to renew their lease?

If a lessee decides not to renew their lease, they should advise NSW DPI of this.

The lease area must be in a suitable condition for return to public water land, where all improvements (including cultivation materials, lease markings and structures) are removed from the lease area. If a lessee fails to remediate an expired lease area, action may be taken under section 171 of the Fisheries Management Act 1994.

Any lease security cash deposits or bank guarantees will be retained by NSW DPI until the lease area has been fully remediated.

Where can more information about renewing an aquaculture lease be obtained?

For more information, contact Aquaculture Administration via email at

Application checklist

This checklist will help you to lodge a successful renewal application.

  • Have you completed every section of the application form?
  • Has the application form been signed by all lessees?
  • Have you paid any outstanding aquaculture lease or permit fees?
  • Have you addressed all outstanding clean up responsibilities on any terminated lease area?
  • If a mortgage or other interest is endorsed on the lease documents, have you asked the mortgagee to return the lease documents to NSW DPI?