Setting up a land-based farm

Find out what the requirements are to set up land-based aquaculture and how to get a fish-farm licence from us.


This process covers aquaculture above the mean high-water mark, including:

  • marine and freshwater species (fish, shellfish, and seaweed)
  • farming in tanks, ponds, or cages (such as in freshwater canals)
  • aquariums
  • farming on land using seawater or brackish water (pumped in from the sea or circulated around the farm).

Setting up a marine farm (like a mussel or oyster farm) and finfish sea cages below mean high-water mark follows a different process.

Find out which species can be farmed

You can apply to farm any species listed under the Notice Specifying Fish Species Which May Be Farmed (2017).

If you want to farm a species that is not on the list, you must apply to us to have the species listed.

Requirements to establish a land-based farm

To set up a land-based farm, you need:

  • resource consent from the local council or a letter from council advising if consent isn't needed
  • to notify a fish and game council in the area where the farm will be located
  • to register as a client with FishServe
  • a fish-farm licence issued by us.

Follow the steps to get approval

Get approval to transfer broodstock

Before transferring broodstock to a farm, you'll need to get approval from us. You can't take species from natural waters (for example, the sea, lakes, and rivers) to use as broodstock on a fish farm. Stock must come from another land-based fish farm, a marine farm, or a licensed fish receiver.

For approval, email

Control biosecurity risks

When planning an aquaculture farm, you must be able to supply water to every pond on the farm without it passing through any other pond on the farm. This allows control of any biosecurity risks – if necessary, infected ponds can be isolated and water can be prevented from leaving the farm.

Find out more

Who to contact

For more information on land-based fish farming, email

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