Approvals for aquaculture operations

Before you begin

Contact Fisheries Queensland on 13 25 23 to discuss your proposal and understand the approvals required.

The aquaculture industry is managed by multiple agencies across local councils, state and federal governments. The approvals you will need will depend on the type, scale and location of your aquaculture project.

Your works may be either:

  • development-related—requires approvals issued under the Planning Act 2016 (Qld)
  • non-development—requires approvals issued under separate legislation.

The Australian Business Licence and Information Service (ABLIS) can help you understand the licences required at local and federal levels.

Start an aquaculture business

If you're starting a new aquaculture business, you may need development approval.

You need a resource allocation authority for aquaculture if your proposed site:

You do not need development approval or a resource allocation authority if your proposed aquaculture operation:

  • can meet accepted development requirements (see development approval)
  • are not on tidal land or unallocated state land
  • involve an intake or discharge structure, where only part of the structure is within unallocated state land.

Marine aquaculture (where production is done in-sea, such as an oyster farm) requires a resource allocation authority.

Native title

You may need a Native Title notification for some approvals.

Development approval

Some aquaculture works can be done without development approval, if they meet the accepted development requirements.

If your proposed works do not meet these requirements, it is an assessable development and you need to apply for development approval.

Your development must comply with State code 17: Aquaculture – Material change of use, under the State Development Assessment Provisions (SDAP).

Read the SDAP guidelines to understand how your development is assessed under the code.

You must also comply with:

Access state land and waterways

You will need to apply for approval to lease any state land that may be part of your proposed aquaculture operation.

To use tidal lands or waterways owned by the Queensland Government, you must have a resource allocation authority for aquaculture.

Build structures or waterway barriers

If you plan to build inlet or outlet structures on tidal land, you must apply for a permit to occupy.

You need development approval for any works that:

Remove, destroy or damage marine plants or vegetation

You may need development approval if your operations could destroy or disturb marine plants.

You can complete maintenance on lawfully constructed aquaculture drains (within farm boundaries) and intake or discharge structures that will disturb marine plants, provided this maintenance is done in accordance with the accepted development requirements.

Development on some sections of land may be constrained or require approvals for regulated vegetation.

Discharge wastewater

If your farm needs to discharge drained pond water (containing nutrients and algae), you will need an environmental authority (EA).

An EA is required for any intensive agricultural activities that could release contaminants into the environment.

Environmental impact

If work you’re undertaking could impact matters of national environmental significance, you will need an assessment under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Matters of national environmental significance include:

  • World Heritage properties or national heritage places
  • wetlands of international importance (e.g. the Ramsar wetlands)
  • threatened species, ecological communities and migratory species
  • Commonwealth marine areas.

Marine parks

You will need a permit to access tidal land for aquaculture activities (other than inlet or outlet structures) within a marine park.

Industry plans support regulated marine aquaculture in certain sites within marine parks in Queensland, however a permit may still be required for some activities.

Collect broodstock

You need a permit to collect broodstock and culture stock in Queensland waters.

You will need a permit to collect species from within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park or a or state marine park.