Starting an Aquaculture Business

Industry and Investment NSW (formerly NSW DPI) is encouraging the development of a viable and environmentally sustainable aquaculture industry through sound land use planning principles to promote the production of seafood of the highest quality.  A background to the NSW aquaculture industry is summarised in Aquaculture Facts and Figures 2015.

Aquaculture Land Use Planning

Aquaculture involves the breeding, growing, keeping and harvesting of fish or marine vegetation with a view to sale for a commercial purpose.  It involves a range of developments on both land and water.

The State Environmental Planning Policy (Primary Production and Rural Development) 2019 provides the legislative framework for defining areas where aquaculture is a permissive land use. Aquaculture Industry Development Plans prepared by the department under the Fisheries Management Act 1994 also utilise land use planning principles to ensure aquaculture is developed in a sustainable manner promoting industry best practice.

The department has developed a number of documents to assist in the development of the different categories of aquaculture. These categories include:-

  1. Land based aquaculture (requiring an aquaculture permit).  This involves the culture of a range of species such as prawns and silver perch within hatchery, growout and fishout facilities. The development of this form of aquaculture must be in accordance with the NSW Land Based Sustainable Aquaculture Strategy.  The department has also undertaken a land use assessment of sites along the NSW coastline to identify potential locations for land based marine aquaculture development.
  2. Estuarine based aquaculture (requiring an aquaculture permit and lease). This is dominated by oyster farming, the oldest and most valuable aquaculture sector in the State.  Sydney rock oysters are the main species produced with Pacific, flat and pearl oysters also being cultured.  The NSW Oyster Industry Sustainable Aquaculture Strategy secures the long term future of oyster leases, streamlines the approvals process, promotes best practice and also focuses on water quality protection in oyster harvest areas.
  3. Marine based aquaculture (requiring an aquaculture permit & permit).  This involves the culture of finfish and molluscs utilising infrastructure such as sea cages and shellfish longlines and is an emerging sector in NSW.  Planning guidelines for this sector of the industry are currently under development.

The application forms for an aquaculture permit and/or lease and additional extension information such as newsletters,  production reports and other publications can be accessed on the department’s aquaculture page.