Setting up a land-based fish farm
Find out what the requirements are to set up land-based aquaculture and how to get a fish-farm licence from Fisheries New Zealand.
About land-based fish farms
This page covers commercial aquaculture above the mean high-water mark of marine and freshwater species. This includes finfish, shellfish, seaweed, and other aquatic life "fish" that will be harvested for sale. You'll need a fish-farm licence if your activities include:
What if I don't plan to sell fish?
You don't need a fish-farm licence if you're not selling your fish or product. However, you'll probably still need to register as a fish farmer. You can do this on the FishServe website.
Activities like pet shops, non-commercial domestic aquaponics, and ponds:
- do not need a fish-farm licence
- do not need to be registered as a fish farmer.
If you want to set up a marine farm
Setting up a farm below the mean high-water mark ("marine farm") follows a different process.
Find out which species you can farm
You can apply for a fish-farm licence for any species listed under the:
If you want to farm a species that is not on the list, you must apply to us to have the species listed.
Stocking your farm
Your stock can only come from:
- another licensed or registered land-based fish farm
- a registered marine farm
- a licensed fish receiver.
You can't take species from natural waters (like the sea, lakes, and rivers) unless they have been commercially caught. You cannot use recreational or customary catch to stock a farm.
Stocking your farm with freshwater species
For freshwater species, contact the Department of Conservation (DOC) to find out if approval is needed before you release the species on the farm.
Requirements to establish a land-based farm
To set up a land-based farm, you need:
- resource consent from the regional council, or a letter from council advising if consent isn't needed
- to notify the fish and game council in the area where the farm will be
- the right to occupy the site
- to register as a client with FishServe
- a fish-farm licence issued by Fisheries New Zealand.
Follow the steps below, or download our guide on getting approval for a fish farm licence.
Step 1: Get resource consent
Before applying for a fish-farm licence, you must get resource consent from the relevant regional council or unitary authority. This may include consent to:
- establish a farm
- install pipelines under the foreshore
- take and discharge water.
Contact your regional council or unitary authority to find out:
- what consultation and information is required
- what application forms you need to complete
- application fees.
Step 2: Notify a fish and game council
When you apply for consent to take or discharge water, you must give written notice of your application for consent to a fish and game council in the district where the:
- farm will be located
- water will be released.
Fish and game councils have the right to make written submissions to the director-general of MPI about your application within 21 days of notification.
Step 3: Register with FishServe
To set up an aquaculture farm, you must be registered as a client with FishServe.
To register, download and complete the relevant FishServe client registration form.
You can submit your application for client registration at the same time as your application for a fish-farm licence.
Step 4: Apply for a fish-farm licence
Prepare your application
For a new fish-farm licence, download and complete the application form:
Application for fish-farm licence [PDF, 180 KB]
Application for fish-farm licence [DOCX, 120 KB]
Prepare the required supporting information (listed in the Guide to applying for a fish-farm licence), including:
- copies of resource consents to take and discharge water
- evidence that Fish and Game were notified
- evidence of your right to use the land for the fish farm (for example, a copy of the lease agreement or ownership papers)
- a list of species you want to farm and where you'll get stock from
- plans of the farm site and layout
- a farm biosecurity plan.
Submit your application
Send your application form and supporting documents to firstname.lastname@example.org
Fees and charges
Updating or renewing your fish-farm licence
Complete the following form if you want to:
- renew a fish-farm license
- add or remove species to your licence
- change the licensed fish-farm area.
Application to amend or renew a fish-farm licence [PDF, 169 KB]
You need to renew your licence every 14 years. To renew it, submit the following form no earlier than 12 months before the licence is due to expire, and no later than 3 months before.
Transferring a fish-farm license
You'll need to complete the following form if your farm is changing owners. The old owner and the new owner must complete the form.
Application to transfer a fish-farm licence [PDF, 180 KB]
Cancelling a fish-farm licence
To cancel a licence, email us (with your licence number and why you want to cancel) at email@example.com
Find out more
Who to contact
If you have questions about setting up a land-based fish farm, email firstname.lastname@example.org