Introduce or keep non-native fish and shellfish
- Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, and Environment Agency
- Part of:
- Aquatic animal health and movements guides and Fisheries and rod licensing
- 16 May 2014
- Last updated:
- 17 August 2016, see all updates
- Applies to:
Apply for a licence to introduce, keep or farm non-native fish, lobsters and crayfish.
It’s an offence to introduce or keep controlled non-native fish or shellfish without a licence.
If you introduce or keep non-native fish or shellfish without a licence you could get a fine and a criminal record
When you need a licence
You need a licence to:
- introduce non-native fish into inland waters
- farm non-native species (or those not found locally)
- keep or introduce controlled non-native species of:
- freshwater fish
You also need permission to:
- move fish from or to an inland water (fishery, rivers, canals, drains and stillwaters)
- trap crayfish in the wild
- import live fish and shellfish
You may need more than 1 licence or permission before you can introduce or keep the fish or shellfish.
All licences and permissions are free.
Permit to introduce and keep non-native fish in inland waters
You must get a permit to introduce and keep non-native fish in inland waters (fisheries, canals, rivers, managed lakes, etc).
Authorisation to farm non-native fish and shellfish
To farm non-native fish or shellfish, or those not found locally, you need to get:
- an Alien Species Regulations (ASR) permit
Licence to keep non-native freshwater fish (ILFA licence)
Get a licence to keep or introduce controlled non-native freshwater fish (not for farms or inland waters):
When you don’t need an ILFA licence
You don’t need a licence to keep:
- common carp (Cyprinus carpio)
- goldfish (Carassius auratus)
- ide or orfe (Leuciscus idus)
- rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss, other than anadromous steelhead)
You don’t need a licence to keep the following species in ornamental wholesale and retail premises, indoor aquariums or garden ponds (discrete bodies of water no bigger than an acre, on private residential premises with no risk of fish escaping into the wild):
- grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella)
- sturgeon (Acipenser and Huso)
You don’t need a licence to keep certain species in an indoor aquarium or if kept for ornamental (including trade, zoos and public aquariums), scientific research or conservation purposes.
Freshwater fish that can be kept for ornamental, scientific research or conservation purposes (MS Excel Spreadsheet, 49.5KB)
Licence to introduce or keep non-native crayfish
Get a licence to keep non-native crayfish (not for farms):
You need a separate licence to trap crayfish.
When you don’t need a crayfish licence
You don’t need a licence to keep:
- native or white clawed crayfish (Austropotamobius pallipes)
- signal crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus) in areas recognised as having a large feral population (see list of areas on application form)
- red-clawed crayfish (Cherax quadricarinatus) in indoor aquaria for ornamental use
- non-native crayfish for human consumption (if kept securely)
You need a licence from Natural England to take white clawed crayfish.
Licence to introduce or keep non-native lobsters
Get a lobster deposit licence:
You need a lobster deposit licence to keep or introduce the following types of lobster within 1 mile of tidal waters:
- American or Canadian lobster (Homarus americanus)
- European lobster (Homarus gammarus) (when kept with American or Canadian lobsters)
You need to apply at least 21 days before lobsters are delivered.
Permission to move fish to or from a fishery
Import live fish or shellfish
You need permission to import live fish and shellfish.
Fish Health Inspectorate (FHI)
Telephone: 01305 206 700
Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm
Fax: 01305 206 602
Telephone: 0370 850 6506
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
Telephone: 0300 060 3900
Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.30pm
Find out about call charges
Published: 16 May 2014
Updated: 17 August 2016
- Added link to permit application for moving or using species covered by the EU regulation 1143/2014 on invasive alien species.
- Added information about the EU Invasive Alien Species Regulation.
- Updated list of freshwater fish that can be kept for ornamental, scientific research or conservation purposes
- Update to reflect new legislation
- Amended permitted species list to add several genera, and to take account of recent nomenclature changes. No species have been removed.
- First published.