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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries

Licences and other approvals

Under the Fish Resources Management Act 1994, you can apply for an aquaculture licence, an aquaculture lease and an exemption to conduct aquaculture. 

Aquaculture Licence

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.

Aquaculture Lease

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.


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 broodstock 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 do not to replace the requirement to ultimately apply for a licence.

Licence Conditions

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 have recently reviewed licence conditions imposed on private land to improve efficiency in licensing, management and compliance activities across all aquaculture industry sectors. Information about species-specific licence conditions are available online.

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 also 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 that DPIRD can compile annual aquaculture production statistics. These data are essential for efficient industry management.

Annual production returns can now be submitted online. Information on how to submit production returns electronically can be found on our aquaculture reporting​ page.

Alternatively, 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 or email


Last modified: 31/10/2023 9:50 AM

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