Select a site for land-based aquaculture

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

Land-based marine and freshwater aquaculture uses ponds or tanks, rather than marine aquaculture where production is done directly in the sea.

Aquaculture projects vary considerably in their potential environmental, economic and social impacts.

Consider site characteristics based on:

  • suitability for the species you plan to farm
  • the ability to grow your business in the area
  • environmental considerations and nearby protected habitats.

Aquaculture development areas

Land-based marine aquaculture development areas are locations identified for potential aquaculture use in Queensland.

Commercial and market access

Choose a region of Queensland that helps you establish your operation with minimal risk and provides room for your business to grow. Think about both initial and long-term markets. Avoid sites that are remote or difficult to access for large vehicles and regular traffic.

Use our market research kit to help you evaluate the economic viability of a potential site.

Your site should have:

  • access to reliable three-phase power and communications
  • suitable local services and technical assistance (e.g. access to equipment repair services)
  • proximity to processing facilities
  • access to a local workforce seeking opportunities for skills development and training
  • close to customers to reduce transport costs
  • all-weather road access
  • local community support for aquaculture
  • a strong or emerging industry sector.

Water supply and quality

Evaluate the site for:

  • reliable water access
  • water salinity (freshwater, seawater or brackish water—determined by species)
  • capacity to store water on site
  • water intake and discharge locations in the area.

Freshwater is naturally occurring or artificially maintained water that contains less than 1,000 milligrams per litre of dissolved solids, particularly salt.

Brackish water is more salty than freshwater, but not as salty as seawater. Some species can be cultured in brackish water.

Consider the specific water requirements for freshwater or marine land-based pond and tank production systems.

You will need an environmental authority if you are discharging drained pond water (which contains nutrients and algae).

Soil quality

Conduct a soil survey before choosing a site. Soils must be impervious (more than 20% clay) to ensure minimum water is lost through seepage. Clay or clay-loam soils are ideal.

Avoid soil types:

  • with gravel or sand layers
  • with rock strata formations
  • that are permeable with high silt, sand or organic matter that may erode
  • that are acidic, which often occur in saltpan and low areas next to mangroves.

Chemical history

Research the site's previous use to ensure there is no contamination risk from chemical residues that may affect production, saleability or safety of your product.

Enquire about any local industries that might pollute or put your stock at risk, such as crop spraying or vibrations from blasting.


Topography is a detailed map of the surface features of land, such as the mountains, hills, creeks, valleys, general rockiness or distinct geographical features.

The topography of your site will influence the design and layout of your facilities.

Avoid land that is:

  • steep
  • flat
  • known to flood more than once every 100 years.

The best sites will be:

  • well-drained
  • above flood level
  • gently sloping (1-3%).

A gently sloping site helps minimise construction costs. If you are using ponds, ideally, your facilities should be sited below the water source for easy supply. A site above flood level reduces the risk of losing fish during floods or non-native species being washed into the natural river system.


Make sure you can secure the site against theft and potential bird or animal predators.

We recommend accommodation be provided on your farm site, both for security and to ensure a quick response to an emergency.

Current land use

  • Local council requirements for land zoning or has the potential for appropriate rezoning.
  • Buffer zones requirements around houses, waterways or farms which may reduce the amount of land available for aquaculture.
  • Native Title or cultural heritage factors related to the site or neighbouring land.