Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Licences and registrations for fish and shellfish farms

What you must do

In Northern Ireland, you must hold a fish culture licence from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD).

DAERA: Fish culture licence

In Scotland, you must register with the Marine Scotland within two months of stocking your farm and commencing business.

Marine Scotland: Aquaculture

You must have a seabed lease from the owner of the seabed, normally the Crown Estate, if you operate a:

  • marine cage fish farm
  • shellfish farm with physical structures on the seabed, for example bottom cultivation of bivalves.

Crown Estate Scotland: Marine aquaculture

Crown Estate: aquaculture research

In Shetland and parts of Orkney in addition to a seabed lease, you also must have a Marine Works Licence from the islands councils. In Shetland, the North Atlantic Fisheries College now processes applications for Marine Works Licences.

North Atlantic Fisheries College

Orkney Islands Council: Contact details

Good practice

In Scotland you can apply for a Several Order. This order will give you an exclusive right to deposit, propagate, dredge, fish for and take shellfish within the limits of your fishery. The order will relate to named species of shellfish and will be granted for a set period. When you apply for the order, you must submit a detailed management plan.

In Scotland a 'responsible organisation' can apply for a Regulating Order to manage and conserve a wild shellfishery. The organisation can then use licences to control the number of people who may fish there and regulate the fishing effort they make.

Marine Scotland

In Northern Ireland you can apply for a Shell Fishery Licence. This licence gives you an exclusive right to deposit, propagate, dredge, fish for, and take shellfish within a certain area. The licence will relate to named species of shellfish and will be granted for a set period.

DAERA: Guide to fish culture licensing 

Additional resources


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