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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries

Aquaculture management

​Our main responsibilities in relation to the State’s aquaculture industry include: 

  • industry management and regulation;
  • assessment and administration of aquaculture licences and leases;
  • policy development;
  • environmental management;
  • aquaculture biosecurity; and
  • aquaculture industry development.

The main pieces of legislation that regulate aquaculture are the Fish Resources Management Act 1994 and the Fish Resources Management Regulations 1995.

Licensing requirements

There is a legal requirement for anyone who keeps, breeds, hatches or cultures fish to hold an aquaculture licence. Exceptions include:

  • keeping fish for non-commercial purposes on private land;
  • keeping fish, except marron, for display or ornamental hobby purposes (marron can be kept in a home aquarium if not kept for the purpose of swapping, trading, sale or exchange);
  • keeping fish for display or ornamental purposes in retail establishments; and
  • keeping fish for display in public aquaria.

To help determine if your keeping of fish is a business or hobby, visit the Australian Taxation Office website.


If you are not sure if your aquaculture proposal will be feasible and would like to undertake research prior to attempting it at a commercial scale, an exemption may be a more appropriate way to get started. An exemption enables small scale research to determine the feasibility of your proposal before making applications for a licence and lease for commercial production.

If you already hold an aquaculture licence, you may need to collect broodstock. An exemption can also assist with this if obtaining a fishing licence or acquiring boodstock from an existing licence holder is not practicable.

Please be aware that exemptions are intended for short-term use only (up to three years) and not to replace the requirement to ultimately apply for a licence.

Applying for an aquaculture licence or exemption

You can now apply online​ for the grant or variation of an aquaculture licence or an exemption. Before you can start, you will need to request a personal account by following the process described below.

A personal account enables an applicant to:

  • submit an application and correspond with us in a workflow-based environment;
  • check the status of an application and know its progress at any time; and
  • have a better user experience.
If you already hold an online account, you can directly apply online​.

Request an online personal account 

Email us at with the following details:

  • name;
  • company name;
  • email address; and
  • contact phone number.

Once your request is received, we will set up your account and you will then be able to apply online.

For information on how to use the online forms, refer to the following online form user guides:

We are currently working to include lease applications within the same system; in the meantime, you are able to download forms for this type of applications below.

Aquaculture lease application forms

An aquaculture licence authorises a specific aquaculture activity at a defined site, whereas a lease provides tenure for the specified area of land or water. An aquaculture lease does not authorise the use of the leased area without an aquaculture licence.

Proposals in coastal waters or areas vested in the Minister for Fisheries are required to be accompanied by an application for an aquaculture lease as well as the relevant additional information sheet.

Assessing licence applications 

When applying for an aquaculture licence, or the variation of an existing licence, we require certain information to assist with the assessment of these applications. Please refer to the following additional information sheets to familiarise yourself with the requirements:

We assess marine-related aquaculture and variation applications under principles set out in Administrative Guideline No. 1, Assessment of Applications for Authorisations for Aquaculture and Pearling in Coastal Waters of Western Australia.

Our aquaculture branch manager is able to approve applications for freehold (private) land where there is no connection with, or discharge to, the marine environment.

Navigational safety

When assessing applications over marine areas, we consult with the Department of Transport to determine any navigational marking and lighting requirements that may be required.

The level of marking and lighting required depends on the activities taking place as well as the location of a proposed or existing site. Further information on this can be found in the Marking and lighting guidance statement.

Environmental management

A key part of our role is to ensure environmental management and regulation of the industry. Issues around biosecurity are a consideration, to prevent aquatic pests and diseases spreading and to protect biodiversity.

Unless exempt, applicants must develop Management and Environmental Monitoring Plans (MEMPs) in support of their licence applications. Our Aquaculture MEMP guidance statement and Aquaculture MEMP document template provide information in relation to developing MEMPs.

Translocation of live fish

Written approval from the CEO is required if your proposal involves the translocation of fish:

  • to areas outside the historic range of the species;
  • to areas which contain genetically distinct populations of the species; or
  • from an area where a reportable disease is known to occur.

In some cases, you may also need a translocation assessment.

EPA referral

Depending on the location and scale of a proposal, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) may also need to assess it. Proposals are normally referred to the EPA for assessment if considered environmentally significant.


An aquaculture licence is issued subject to the conditions set out in Regulation 69 of the Fish Resources Management Regulations 1995 and additional conditions that may be specified in the licence by the CEO (who may also vary or cancel a condition by notice in writing).

We are reviewing licence conditions to improve efficiency in licensing, management and compliance activities across all aquaculture industry sectors.

In addition to Regulation 69, licence and lease holders should note that if an aquaculture licence authorising the activity being carried out in the leased area is cancelled or not renewed, the lease is terminated.

Similarly, if an aquaculture lease is terminated or expires, an aquaculture licence authorising the activity being carried out in the leased area is cancelled.

Annual production returns

Licence holders must provide annual aquaculture production returns so we can compile annual aquaculture production statistics. These data are essential for efficient industry managment.

We provide an Aquaculture Production Annual Returns Book, which explains how to fill in the returns. For more help, speak to our Aquaculture Returns Officer on T: (08) 9203 0111.​​​​​

Assessing exemption applications

When applying for an exemption, we require certain information to assist with the assessment of such an application. Please refer to the following additional information sheets to familiarise yourself with the requirements:

Exemption applications are assessed internally.

Last modified: 18/12/2019 2:24 PM

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