Finfish Aquaculture

The Hatcheries Division of the Maryland DNR Fisheries Service is responsible for approving aquaculture permits in Maryland. The permit process is designed to protect the natural resources of Maryland. As a current or prospective aquaculturist, the Department of Natural Resources wishes to provide information to assist in compliance with Maryland State law.

Any person engaged in aquaculture or related activities must first obtain an aquaculture permit. Permits are free of charge, and must be renewed every five years.

The Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) (Title 08 Department of Natural Resources, Subtitle 02 Fisheries Service, Chapter 14 Aquaculture, Natural Resources Article, 4), states that a person must apply for and obtain an aquaculture permit before operating a facility. "A person may not engage in aquaculture or related activities, own or operate an aquaculture facility ...conduct aquacultural activities involving finfish in the tidal waters of the State ...or propagate fish for aquacultural purposes without first obtaining a permit from the Department."

Fisheries Service will provide technical assistance for growing methods and aquatic disease control upon request. The aquaculture permit has a five-year duration, and is subject to review and renewal for additional five-year terms. An annual report is required for each permit summarizing efforts, including information of activities undertaken, production techniques utilized and the number or amount of fish or shellfish stocked and/or harvested. Failure to submit an annual report or to conduct the planned activities may result in Maryland DNR revoking the permit.

Download applicable aquaculture permit information:

  • Aquaculture Application
  • Out of State Fish Supplier Application
  • Fee Fishing Permit Application
  • Scientific Collectors and Educational Permits
  • Questions concerning the aquaculture permitting process can be directed to Karl Roscher (410) 260-8313 or E-mail Customer Service attention Karl Roscher.

    If you need information about seafood marketing, please go to marylandseafood.org.

    Experimental Aquaculture Permits

    In addition to sanctioning activities for conventional commercial aquaculture operations, the program can also issue permits that authorize experimental aquaculture.

    Aquaculture in open waters affected by the tide requires an Experimental Aquaculture Permit. The Maryland DNR Fisheries Service provides this permit to ensure continued protection of our native species and fisheries. In addition, the Experimental Aquaculture Permit process helps gather information about the feasibility of various aquaculture production techniques. This permit will help the applicant identify other permits and licenses which may be required, and whether the proposed activity meets general guidelines for aquaculture in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

    The Fisheries Service Aquaculture Project is the initial contact point for applicants.

    MD DNR Fisheries Service
    c/o Rich Bohn
    Tawes State Office Building B-2
    580 Taylor Avenue
    Annapolis, Maryland 21401
    (410) 260-8317.

    A permitted area may not exceed 5 acres per individual. Two persons may jointly obtain a permit for up to 10 acres. A single permit may include more than one location.

    Activities may not interfere with ongoing oyster bottom leases at the same location. Aquaculture is not permissible over charted Natural Oyster Bottom or protected State oyster sanctuaries. In some designated Oyster Recovery Areas, typically located in upper reaches of major tributaries, only oysters free of specified oyster diseases may be stocked. Stocking imported shellfish from out-of-state vendors will require a Shellfish Import Permit approval from DNR. Any finfish used in tidal experimental aquaculture operations must receive approval from DNR prior to stocking.

    Fisheries Service will provide technical assistance for growing methods and aquatic disease control upon request. The experimental aquaculture permit has a five-year duration, and is subject to review and renewal for additional five-year terms. An annual report is required for each permit summarizing efforts, including information of activities undertaken, production techniques utilized and the number or amount of fish or shellfish stocked and/or harvested. Failure to submit an annual report or to conduct the planned activities may result in Maryland DNR revoking the permit.