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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 and aquaculture biosecurity; and
  • providing advice on industry development initiatives.

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 aquariums.

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

Applying for a licence

You can now apply online​ for the grant or variation of an aquaculture licence. Before you can start, you will need to request a personal account, as 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, your account will be set up by us and you will then be able to apply for a licence online.

For information on how to use the online forms, refer to the Online Form User Guides for the grant or variation of an aquaculture licence.

We are currently working to include lease applications and aquaculture exemption applications within the same forum; in the meantime, you are able to download forms for these types of applications below.

Aquaculture lease application forms

An aquaculture licence authorises a specific aquaculture activity in a defined site, whereas a lease provides tenure for the specified area of land or water. An aquaculture lease doesn’t 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.

Exemption application forms

Exemption application form

The prescribed application fees for applications relating to non-freehold land or freehold land must accompany your application. (Fees may be subject to change.)

Navigational safety

When assessing new licence applications and variations to existing licences 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.

Assessing licence applications

We assess marine-related aquaculture licence 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 private land where there’s no connection with, or discharge to, the marine environment.

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 help improve consistency, transparency and certainty in licensing and compliance arrangements 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.

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.​​​​​aquaculture_licence_online_user_guide.pdf

Last modified: 24/11/2017 3:44 PM

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