Aquaculture Facility Licensing
Aquaculture Facility Registration
Aquaculture facilities (fish farms) in Michigan need to be licensed with MDARD and licensure must be renewed annually. There are two options for licensure, one is an "Aquaculture Facility Registration" and the other is an "Aquaculture Research Permit." The differences are described below. In addition to licensure, some facilities may require environmental permits from other agencies, including local government agencies. Contacting the departments to discuss your aquaculture plans before pursuing an initial registration with MDARD is recommended - this will help to clarify specific regulatory requirements for your intended operation. Please feel free to contact the Aquaculture Program Manager at 517-284-5685 for more information and assistance with beginning this process.
For an Aquaculture Facility Registration or an Aquaculture Research Permit:
Aquaculture Program Manager at 517-284-5685
Central Licensing Unit (CLU) at 1-500-292-3939
- Downloadable Application (for Facility Registration or Research Permit)
- Facility Registration: $100 new / $75 renewal
- Research Permit: $250 new / $100 renewal
- Expires: yearly on September 30th
Aquaculture Facility Licensing FAQ
- Who needs a license?
- How do I apply for an Aquaculture Facility Registration or Aquaculture Research Permit?
- How long does it take to process my first-time application?
- When does my registration or permit expire?
- How do I renew my registration or permit?
- Is there anything I can do to speed the issuance of my registration or permit?
- What should I do if there are changes in type of aquaculture species on premise or in company ownership, name or address?
Other than for the exemptions listed below, anyone engaged in any aspect of commercial aquaculture in privately controlled waters must obtain an Aquaculture Facility Registration or Aquaculture Research Permit through the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD). Commercial aquaculture includes the culturing, producing, growing, using, propagating, harvesting, transporting, importing, exporting, or marketing of aquacultural products for commercial purposes.
There are two options for licensure, one is an "Aquaculture Facility Registration" and the other is an "Aquaculture Research Permit" The differences are explained below.
- An Aquaculture Facility Registration is required for commercial aquaculture activities involving species that are on Michigan's Approved Species list, as listed in the Michigan Aquaculture Development Act.
- You will need an Aquaculture Research Permit if you wish to use an aquaculture species that is NOT on Michigan's Approved Species list. If you are interested in applying for an Aquaculture Research Permit, it is necessary that you contact MDARD to discuss your project prior to submitting an application.
You do not need an Aquaculture Research Permit or Aquaculture Facility Registration for:
- A retail bait outlet
- Retail ornamental fish facilities
- Using privately controlled waters for non-commercial purposes
- Public aquariums or zoos
- Portable retail fishing concessions
BEFORE YOU APPLY:
- Review the New Facility webpage and the Commercial Aquaculture Regulatory Resource Book for information on Michigan licenses and permits applicable to your proposed aquaculture facility.
- Contact the Aquaculture Program Manager (Dr. Steve Hussey 517-284-5685, HusseyS@Michigan.gov) to discuss your plans for an aquaculture business and how to navigate the regulatory process.
- Review and complete the Aquaculture Application form providing all of the information requested. If you are applying for a Research Permit, you must go through an extensive review process with the Quality of Life Agencies (DNR, EGLE, MDARD) and it is required that you contact the Aquaculture Program Manager prior to sending in your application Dr. Steve Hussey 517-284-5685, HusseyS@Michigan.gov)
SUBMITTING YOUR APPLICATION:
- Submit the completed application (and research protocol if applying for an Aquaculture Research Permit), along with a check or money order for the appropriate fee, payable to State of Michigan, to the following address:
Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development
Animal Industry Division
PO Box 30776
Lansing, MI 48909-8276
- Within 30 days of receipt of the application, a Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) employee, typically a Field Veterinarian, will contact you to schedule a pre-registration or pre-permit inspection of the facility. Your facility should be completed and fully capable of operation prior to the inspection. If your initial inspection finds problems that need to be corrected prior to approval. you will be given this information in writing and a second inspection can be scheduled after the specified deficiencies have been corrected. Up to two facility inspections can be done for an application. If neither inspection is passed, a new application and fee will need to be submitted.
- After receiving your registration or permit expires annually on September 30. You must renew your registration or permit by September 30 each year or you may be subject to penalties and may need to re-apply as a new facility. You will receive a renewal application by mail each year in August.
- Review the Great Lakes Fish Disease Control Policy and Model Program guidelines, for information on fish health, disease testing, and other measures aimed at reducing the risk of disease outbreaks in the Great Lakes basin.
MDARD strives to provide a timely response to aquaculture registration and permit applications. Typically, it takes 4-8 weeks to receive a Registration but it may take longer for a Research Permit
You can help speed the processing of your application by being sure your application is complete and includes the correct fee; by thoroughly reviewing the laws, regulations, and other documents provided here; and by making sure your facility is constructed and ready for inspection.
Both the Aquaculture Facility Registration and the Aquaculture Research Permit expire annually on September 30. You must renew your registration or permit prior to that date each year to avoid additional fees. You will receive a renewal application by mail each year in August. When renewing your facility's registration, simply fill out the application and send it in with a check for $75.
Please note that late applications received after October 31 will have to pay the initial registration or permit fee rather than the renewal fee, and must go through the pre-licensing inspection process again.
Please note that you must apply as a new facility if there has been a change in ownership/management or facility address.
When renewing your facility's registration, simply fill out the application that you will receive by mail in August each year, and send it in with a check for $75. When renewing a Research Permit, you must also submit a copy of your research protocol for review and approval by the Quality of Life Team.
You can help speed the processing of your application by being sure your application is completely and accurately filled out and includes the correct fee; by thoroughly reviewing the laws, regulations, and other documents; and by making sure you facility is constructed and ready for inspection. Contacting the Aquaculture Program Manager at 517-284-5685 prior to submitting an initial application is recommended.
If there is a change in facility address or ownership, the registration or permit does not transfer and a new application with the registration or permit fee must be applied for immediately.
If there is a change in business name, but remains under the same ownership and address, please submit a completed copy of the application, reflecting the changes so that the records can be updated. You will receive a new registration or permit in the mail reflecting the change. There is no charge for this.
If you want to change the species on premise, please submit a completed copy of the application reflecting the changes immediately, so that we may update our records. Please note that the species must be on Michigan's Approved Species list. You will not receive an updated registration in the mail reflecting the change. There is no charge for this.
If you have an Aquaculture Facility Permit, and/or are interested in adding a species not on the approved list, you will need to apply for an Aquaculture Research Permit and must submit the required fee.
Laws and Regulations
The laws relative to Aquaculture in Michigan are (follow the links):
- Act 199, PA of 1996, Michigan Aquaculture Development
- An act to define, develop and regulate aquaculture as an agricultural enterprise in this state.
- Act 451, PA of 1994, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act Part 459 Propagation of Game Fish in Private Waters
- An act to protect the environment and natural resources of the state.
- Act 466, PA of 1988, Animal Industry Act
- An act to authorize and require the appointment of a state veterinarian within the department of agriculture: to protect the human food chain and the livestock and aquaculture industries of the state through prevention, control, and eradication of infectious, contagious, or toxicological diseases of livestock and other animals.
Links to other potential license and permits
(please review Aquaculture Regulatory Resource Guidebook to determine if any of these apply to your operation)
- Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy Permits
- Michigan Department of Natural Resource Permits
- Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Permits
This link provides access to the GAAMPS: Care of Farm Animals, which includes current accepted husbandry practices for aquaculture farming.