Aquaculture lease tenures and renewals

Lease tenure

An aquaculture lease is a tenure over public water land for the purpose of aquaculture. In line with the Fisheries Management Act 1994, aquaculture leases are let for a maximum term of 15 years. The lessee is entitled to the first renewal for another term of 15 years and subsequent renewals, subject to conditions.

Lease renewals

NSW DPI progresses approximately 150 lease renewal applications each year.

An application to renew a lease may be rejected or refused if:

  • The application is incomplete or the application fee is not paid
  • The lessee has outstanding debt
  • The lessee has failed to clean-up a terminated lease area
  • The lessee is a disqualified person
  • The lease area is no longer available for aquaculture, or it is in the public interest to refuse the application.

Transactions permitted within a lease’s tenure

Within the tenure of a lease, the lessee may apply to:

  • Transfer (sell) the lease
  • Surrender (either whole or part of) the lease so the area is returned to public water land
  • Sublet the lease to another current permit holder
  • Subdivide the lease to create two smaller areas
  • Consolidate the lease with an adjoining lease to create one larger area

Activities not permitted on a lease

Activities not permitted include:

  • Cultivating or holding stock for another person without a sublet agreement being in place
  • Cultivating stock or installing infrastructure on an expired or otherwise terminated lease
  • Installing cultivation material outside the boundaries of the lease, as shown on the approved lease plan
  • Using cultivation equipment not endorsed by the NSW Oyster Industry Sustainable Aquaculture Strategy (OISAS) 2021
  • Depositing waste in the lease area
  • Constructing any kind of structure without the relevant approvals.

Lease mortgages

An aquaculture lease is “real property” and as such, a mortgage may be endorsed over the lease.

In accordance with the Fisheries Management Act 1994, the Minister must endorse on a lease document the particulars of any mortgage, charge or other interest to which the lease is subject.

If a mortgage or other interest is endorsed over a lease, NSW DPI cannot progress a lease transaction (e.g., lease transfer) without the written consent of the mortgagee or interested party.

More information

Please contact Aquaculture Administration via email at