Aquaculture North America

NOAA streamlines shellfish regulatory process

March 26, 2015
By Tom Walker

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Interagency Working Group on Aquaculture (IWG-A) has released a new guide, Information for Shellfish Growers.  The guide was written to support the development of sustainable shellfish aquaculture in the US by helping farmers navigate the shellfish aquaculture permitting process.

 According to the Guide “clarifying permitting requirements and processes and making them more transparent and accessible to shellfish growers can contribute to improved coordination and more timely permit decisions.”  The section on obtaining a lease includes the main types of authorizations required and information on agencies involved.

Specific situations are described in the guide where local, state and federal permits are required.  A list of federal agency initiatives that facilitate the permitting process is provided as well as a list of additional sources of information.

The guide is part of the NOAA National Shellfish Initiatives program that was started in 2011 to increase shellfish in the environment both through restoration efforts and aquaculture.  Since initiation, NOAA has worked to streamline the permitting process on the federal and state levels and the guide is part of this initiative.


“Streamlining the regulations are state-wide initiatives to identify the hurdles and roadblocks in the permitting process and overcome them. Washington State got out ahead and they have a very large shellfish industry now” said David O’Brien, Deputy Director, Office of Aquaculture at NOAA Fisheries.   

 “We were given marching orders by President Obama. He said we need to move ahead on shellfish aquaculture, we want federal agencies to work together and make this an easier process. So we took that to heart and said ‘let’s figure this out.’

The Shellfish Growers Guide is the first step, which outlines all the federal requirements for shellfish aquaculture, here’s the basic process. It doesn’t change the process at all, but it does make it more transparent and obvious to your average farmer who’s trying to get started.

The guide is available on line at

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