Start now on the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) website
You must have a fish culture licence from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) if you run a fish farm in Northern Ireland.
Fish farms include:
- marine and shellfish farms
- land based fish farms - using an enclosed water re-circulation system, a pump ashore system or abstracting water from a bore hole
- fish farms on inland waters, eg rivers or lakes
A fish culture licence allows you to run a fish farm at a specified place and to carry out certain activities relating to fish farming.
Types of licences
There are 3 types of fish culture licences:
- fish culture licence - compulsory for all fish and shellfish farms
- shellfish fishery licence - optional additional licences for shellfish farms (gives you the exclusive right to cultivate a particular species of shellfish within a specified area)
- marine fish fishery licence - optional additional licences for marine fish farms (gives you the exclusive right to cultivate a particular species of marine fish within a specified area)
The licence can include any conditions DARD considers necessary, eg when and how you should catch the fish.
Licence holders or DARD can apply to amend the licence at any time.
How to apply
Download and complete the application form that you need for your type of fish farm from the DARD website.
You may need supporting documents, including:
- proof of site ownership or lease, or proof that you’ll have this before the licence is issued
- a chart or map showing the exact location of the proposed farm
- approvals from the Planning Service, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and the Crown Estate Commissioners (or other owner of the seabed)
- an environmental impact assessment in the case of a marine fin fish farm.
- a marine licence in the case of a marine fin fish farm
- a water discharge consent and abstraction licence or confirmation that you’ve applied for both
- a business plan for the proposed development
Send your completed application and supporting documents to DARD.
Fisheries and Environment Division
Upper Newtownards Road
Fines and penalties
You could be fined up to £2,500 if you operate a fish farm without a fish culture licence or to break any conditions attached to the licence..
Contact the Cross Border Aquaculture Initiative for help with your application.