Land-based marine aquaculture


Contact Fisheries Queensland on 13 25 23 before you buy land to ensure your proposed aquaculture farm is compliant with industry regulations.

Land-based marine aquaculture that uses pond or tank systems requires development approval before undertaking any aquaculture development.

To prepare to launch your new aquaculture operation:

The species you choose to farm will influence what type of site and production system you’ll need.


Production systems

Land-based marine aquaculture uses a range of production systems, based on what best suits the species you plan to farm:

When selecting a site, the most critical factors are:

  • the salinity of the water
  • proximity to marine parks or declared fish habitat areas
  • the ability to bring your product to market.


Hatcheries are land-based facilities that hold adult broodstock to induce spawning under carefully controlled conditions. This process produces eggs and larvae for on-growing, as well as for the aquarium trade.

Water salinity

The salinity level of waters near a site will determine which species you can successfully farm. Seawater normally has a salt concentration of about 35 parts per thousand (ppt).

Most land-based marine aquaculture operations are near the coast or estuarine rivers, although inland sites where saline water is an agricultural problem are being developed.

In river systems, areas of brackish or estuarine water decrease in salinity further upstream. While some species prefer brackish water (such as barramundi), others demand higher salinity and better coastal water (reef fish and snapper).

Salinity levels and water quality can be affected by:

  • the size of tides
  • the size of the river at low tide (large tides mean some creeks can be dry at low tide)
  • rainfall and flooding
  • artificial barriers
  • ocean currents and water depth
  • suspended solids such as clay and organic matter
  • dissolved nutrients and toxic chemicals.

Water supply

In addition to seawater or brackish water, an adequate supply of freshwater is necessary for some hatcheries and processing plants.

As a freshwater source, you can use:

  • dams
  • freshwater waterways
  • run-off
  • irrigation channels
  • underground bores.

Do not use:

  • domestic water, which may contain chlorine and can be expensive
  • water that contains high levels of organic matter
  • bore water with excess levels of nitrogen, carbon, total dissolved salts, minerals and gases.