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Aquaculture Licensing

Under Section 6 of the Fisheries (Amendment) Act, 1997 (as amended), it is illegal to engage in aquaculture without an appropriate Aquaculture Licence. Aquaculture includes the culture or farming of fish, aquatic invertebrates, aquatic plants or any aquatic form of food suitable for the nutrition of fish. Land-based aquaculture may also require planning permission and a discharge permit from the local authority.

Aquaculture licensing is administered through the Aquaculture and Foreshore Management Division of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. The Division also processes companion foreshore licences required for coastal aquaculture operations. The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine decides on applications made to the Division on the approved application form and accompanied by the appropriate fees. Any person who engages in aquaculture without a licence or who breaches the terms of a licence may be prosecuted through the Courts. Penalties can be severe and in addition to any fine imposed by the Court, the Minister may, by Order, also require the person convicted to remove any structures and/or equipment.

An application form for an aquaculture licence can be downloaded here or received from the Aquaculture Licensing Section, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, National Seafood Centre, Clonakilty, Co. Cork; Tel: 1890 25 27 41.

From September 2015 once an application goes to Public Notice the relevant documentation will be available on the website for information at Aquaculture/Foreshore Licence Applications

Aquaculture and Foreshore Licence Templates have been developed which indicate the generic terms and conditions that apply to licences issued for the various types of aquaculture activity.


Aquaculture Licence Appeals Procedures

The Appeals procedure for aquaculture licensing is handled by the independent Aquaculture Licences Appeals Board, established on 17 June 1998 under Section 22 of the Fisheries (Amendment) Act, 1997. All Board members are engaged on a part-time basis. Customers, the public or environmental organisations aggrieved by a decision of the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine on an aquaculture licence application, or by the revocation or amendment of an aquaculture licence, may make an appeal within one month of publication (in the case of a decision) or notification (in the case of revocation/amendment).

All appeals must be made in writing on the appeals application form, setting out the grounds of appeal and addressed to: The Aquaculture Licences Appeals Board, Kilminchy Court, Dublin Road, Portlaoise, Co Laois. Tel & Fax: (057) 8631912, email:

The Aquaculture Licensing Section of the Aquaculture & Foreshore Management Division co-ordinates processing and monitoring of licences for:

Key Legislation/Publications

Aquaculture licence applications may be subject to environmental assessments under the Natural Habitats Regulations if located within or close to Natura 2000 conservation sites. For more information on conservation sites please contact the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Appropriate Assessments Carried Out

All applications in 'Natura 2000' areas are required to be appropriately assessed for the purpose of environmental compliance with the EU Habitats/Birds Directives.

Appropriate Assessment Conclusion Statements

Conclusion Statements outline how aquaculture activities are being licensed in compliance with the EU Birds and Habitats Directives.

Ministerial Consideration of Requirement for an Environmental Impact Statement

The Minister may require an applicant to submit an Environmental Impact Statement if the Minister considers that the proposed aquaculture is likely to have significant effects on the environment.

Alien and Locally Absent Species in Aquaculture in Ireland

The Regulations Council Regulation (EC) No 708/2007 (pdf 116Kb) ) require the translocation/introduction of Alien and Locally Absent Species to be authorised by the Competent Authority, and to be recorded in a publicly available register. It allows exceptions for specific cases such as closed recirculation systems, where the risks of interactions with the external environment are minimal. It also recognises that some alien species have commonly been used in aquaculture for a long time in certain parts of the EU – for example, Carp and Pacific Oyster. These species, listed in Annex IV to the Regulation, are exempt from most provisions of the Regulation.

Implementation of the Shellfish Waters Directive is now a matter for the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

For further information on applying for an aquaculture licence please see the Aquaculture Licence Application Form and Guidelines on our Forms and Downloads Page

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