Aquaculture Regulations and Permitting Overview


Regulations present some of the most challenging aspects of the aquaculture industry. It always makes sense to talk to your state permitting authority or extension agent about regulations in your area. Below are some links to reports and comparisons of aquaculture permitting system

Following are some useful links to permitting overviews and federal regulations governing shellfish aquaculture.

Best Management Practices Guide for Regulators


ECSGA Executive Director Bob Rheault recorded a 40-minute Zoom presentation to help regulators in designing aquaculture regulations that are fair, equitable and comprehensive.

EPA Effluent Guidelines

Effluent Guidelines are national regulatory standards for wastewater discharged to surface waters and municipal sewage treatment plants. EPA issues these regulations for industrial categories, based on the performance of treatment and control technologies.

Evaluation of U.S. Shellfish Aquaculture Permitting Systems

This June 2018 report presents an exhaustive comparison of aquaculture permitting systems and includes recommendations on how to improve permitting efficiencies and industry development. It was prepared for the National Marine Fisheries Service by Tom O’Connell of Earth Resource Technology Inc., who based it on a 2016 review of 22 shellfish aquaculture permitting systems covering all the coastal states in the continental U.S.

Massachusetts Aquaculture Permitting

This website provides a one-stop shop for information about the cost, timeline and permit application, as well as resources for new growers and detailed steps for the annual reporting process. Information on preventing negative impacts to fisheries habitats, protected species, and public access of our shared coastal waters is also provided.

NOAA Fisheries Marine Aquaculture Regulations and Policies

NOAA Fisheries plays a central role in developing and implementing policies that enable marine aquaculture, working to ensure that aquaculture complies with existing federal laws and regulations that NOAA enforces under its marine stewardship mission.


NOAA Shellfish Best Management Practices, Standards, and Certification Programs

This NOAA web page provides links to documents containing both industry-driven and government mandated best management practices. This list provides examples of some prominent best management practices documents, but is by no means an exhaustive list.

NSSP Guide to Molluscan Shellfish

The National Shellfish Sanitation Program (NSSP) is the federal/state cooperative program recognized by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference (ISSC) for the sanitary control of shellfish produced and sold for human consumption. The purpose of the NSSP is to promote and improve the sanitation of shellfish (oysters, clams, mussels and scallops) moving in interstate commerce through federal/state cooperation and uniformity of State shellfish programs. Participants in the NSSP include agencies from shellfish producing and non-producing States, FDA, EPA, NOAA, and the shellfish industry.

Nationwide Permit Re-Issuance Comments

Read the comments that ECSGA and the Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association submitted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regarding their proposal to re-issue and modify several Nationwide Permits, including 48, which is specific to shellfish culture.

Summary of Shellfish Aquaculture Leasing/Permitting Rules with the State and Army Corps

This Microsoft Excel spreadsheet is solid gold, detailing all the specific regulations, contacts, information sources and production estimates for each of the 22 coastal states. But be aware that this is a moving target, as states regularly change their regulations, links get updated, and each one of the eight U.S. Army Corps of Engineers districts, which regulate structures in navigable waters, updates permit requirements every five years. It's always a good idea to talk to your state permitting authority or extension agent about regulations in your area