Fish, shellfish or crustacean farm authorisation

How to get authorised to set up a fish, shellfish or crustacean farm: application process, conditions and records you must keep.

Before setting up a fish, shellfish or crustacean farm (called an aquaculture production business) you must apply to the Fish Health Inspectorate (FHI) for authorisation. This is to prevent the introduction and spread of infectious diseases.

There are many other regulatory requirements for new aquaculture businesses. A full list of these can be found on the SEAFISH Aquaculture Regulatory Toolbox for England.

How to apply for authorisation

When you apply for authorisation the steps are:

  1. you apply to the FHI for Authorisation to set up a new aquaculture production business
  2. you get a confirmation letter with guidance on developing a biosecurity measures plan (BMP). This will also explain if your application must undergo a statutory consultation with other government bodies
  3. the inspector arranges a site visit
  4. the inspector reviews your draft BMP and gives advice on record keeping
  5. the inspector makes a recommendation to an authorisation officer

One of the following then happens:

  • you get a licence (if your site is complete and you have a BMP)
  • you get a licence in principle (if your BMP hasn’t been submitted or your site is still at the planning stage)
  • you don’t get a licence (if your plans or species don’t comply with the law or if it’s more appropriate to register your site as a fishery or aquatic animal holding)

Authorisation can take up to 90 days.

If your application is unsuccessful

If your application is turned down FHI will tell you the reasons why and will work with you to resolve problems.

They’ll also tell you how you can appeal against their decision.

Authorisation conditions

The fish health inspector will outline the conditions of your authorisation.

As a condition of your licence you must:

If you don’t comply with authorisation conditions

If you don’t comply with the conditions of your authorisation your authorisation may be suspended or cancelled.

You may also be fined.

Records you must keep

You must keep the following records to show there’s a low risk of spreading disease:

  • details of movements of any fish, shellfish or crustacean or product into or out of your premises
  • number of aquaculture animals that have died in each of your units
  • results of your surveillance
  • results of surveillance FHI notifies you about

If your details change

If there are changes you must apply to FHI to change your authorisation.

You must tell FHI in writing in advance if:

  • the owner or operator of the farm changes
  • the farm is no longer operational
  • the species farmed changes
  • the number of tanks, ponds or other holding facilities changes

Authorisation for a purification plant

To set up a shellfish purification plant you need to:

  1. apply to FHI for Authorisation to set up a new aquaculture production business.
  2. contact environmental health at your local council to organise an inspection.

Rules for purification centres are set by the Food Standards Agency.


Fish Health Inspectorate


Telephone: 01305 206 700

Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm

Fax: 01305 206602

Published 16 May 2014
Last updated 13 April 2016 + show all updates
  1. Added link to SEAFISH Aquaculture Regulatory Toolbox for England.

  2. Added a section on the need for some applications to undergo statutory consultations.

  3. First published.