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.
Licence to introduce or keep non-native crayfish
If you wish to introduce, hold, keep or sell any of the crayfish species listed below you will need to contact Natural England to get a licence:
- signal crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus)
- spiny cheek crayfish (Orconectes limosus)
- red swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkii)
- virile crayfish (Orconectes virilis)
- marbled crayfish (Procambarus fallax f. virginalis (Procambarus virginalis)
To introduce or keep any other species of crayfish contact the FHI.
When you don’t need a crayfish licence
You don’t need a licence to keep:
- native or white clawed crayfish (Austropotamobius pallipes)
- red-clawed crayfish (Cherax quadricarinatus) in indoor aquaria for ornamental use
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 Thursday, 9am to 5pm and Friday 9am to 4:30pm
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