Aquaculture, specifically activities related to shellfish aquaculture, includes the propagation, rearing, and subsequent harvesting of shellfish in controlled or selected environments as well the processing, packaging, and marketing of the harvested shellfish. Shellfish aquaculture includes activities that intervene in the rearing process to increase production such as stocking, feeding, transplanting, and providing for protection from predators. Aquaculture activities are strongly encouraged in New Jersey’s coastal waters. Shellfish aquaculture is considered one of the fastest growing food-producing sectors and is vital to the economy in the coastal communities in New Jersey.
Activities associates with aquaculture may require multiple approvals from the Division, depending on the special areas impacted by the project. If you don't know what special areas are on your site, please check out the before you buy, before you build section of this website for guidance on determining if your site contains one of these regulated special areas.
For information on Land Use permit requirements for aquaculture activities within specific "special areas", please click on each of the tabs above.*
*For impacts to Streams, Rivers, Lakes, Ponds, Flood Plains, Flood Way, Riparian Zones and other water body related areas, please click on the "Flood Hazard" tab. For impacts to special coastal areas, please click on the "Coastal" tab. For impacts to Freshwater Wetlands, click on the "Freshwater Wetlands" tab. Information on building within state owned riparian lands can be found in the "Tidelands" tab.
It is unlikely that aquaculture activities would impact freshwater wetlands. Should an area of coastal wetlands be impacted by this activity, and should that coastal wetland not appear on the promulgated coastal wetlands mapping, then the Department will likely take jurisdiction over that wetland under the Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act and Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act Rules. Please see the Freshwater Wetlands Section of this website for more information.
It is anticipated that the majority of aquaculture structures will be located both in tidal flood hazard areas and below the mean high water line. In those cases, the structures are not regulated by the Flood Hazard Area Control Act Rules as long as a coastal permit of any type is obtained from the Division of Land Use Regulation for the construction.
If structures are proposed in tidal flood hazard areas, but above the mean high water line, the applicant need only submit a report and plans demonstrating compliance with the Flood Hazard Area Control Act Rules as part of the coastal permit application.
In cases where no coastal permit is required, the applicant must obtain approval under the Flood Hazard Area Control Act Rules. Since no Flood Hazard Area Permit-by-Rule or General Permit is specific to aquaculture, a Flood Hazard Area Individual Permit would likely be required. Please contact the Department for further guidance in those cases.
Aquaculture is the use of permanently inundated water areas, whether saline or fresh, for the purposes of growing and harvesting plants or animals in a way to promote more rapid growth, reduce predation, and increase harvest rate. There are several permits-by-rule and coastal general permits available for aquaculture activities. There are no existing exemptions from permitting requirements. If the proposed project does not meet the requirements of a permit-by-rule or a coastal general permit, a CAFRA or Waterfront Development Individual permit and/or a Coastal Wetlands permit will be required.
Please refer to the “Jurisdiction” section of the "Coastal Permitting" section of the website to determine which areas regulated under the Coastal Permit Program Rules (N.J.A.C. 7:7-1.1 et seq.) and the Coastal Zone Management Rules (N.J.A.C. 7:7E-1.1 et seq.) occur on your site. The availability of certain exemptions and permits for a project depends on where your project is proposed. Additional information regarding the Division’s coastal program can be found on the “Coastal Permitting” section of the website. If necessary, please contact the Division’s Technical Support Center for further assistance.
These coastal permits-by-rule may apply to your project --
- Permit-by-Rule 17 authorizes the placement of land-based upwellers and raceways, including intakes and discharges, for aquaculture activities provided it meets all of the requirements of this permit-by-rule. Please refer to N.J.A.C. 7:7-7.2(a)17 for information on the requirements of this permit-by-rule.
- Permit-by-Rule 18 authorizes the placement of predator screens and oyster spat attraction devices in an area subject to a valid shellfish lease pursuant to N.J.S.A. 50:1-23 provided it meets all of the requirements of this permit-by-rule. Please refer to N.J.A.C. 7:7-7.2(a)18 for information on the requirements of this permit-by-rule.
- Permit-by-Rule 19 authorizes the placement of shellfish cages in an area subject to a valid shellfish lease pursuant to N.J.S.A. 50:1-23 provided it meets all of the requirements of this permit-by-rule. Please refer to N.J.A.C. 7:7-7.2(a)19 for information on the requirements of this permit-by-rule.
These coastal general permits may apply to your project –
- Coastal General Permit 35 authorizes commercial aquaculture activities consisting of the construction and/or placement and maintenance of shellfish aquaculture equipment, including floating upwellers, shellfish rafts, racks and bags, lantern nets, and cages provided the project meets all of the requirements of this coastal general permit. Please refer to N.J.A.C. 7:7-7.35 for information on the requirements of this coastal general permit.
- Coastal General Permit 36 authorizes the placement of shell in an area with a valid shellfish lease authorized under N.J.S.A. 50:1-23 provided the project meets all of the requirements of this coastal general permit. Please refer to N.J.A.C. 7:7-7.36 for information on the requirements of this coastal general permit.
Except for Individual shellfish markers (i.e. a single stick in the water), aquaculture activities occupying water column require a tidelands license if the activities are taking place in a non-granted area that is at or below the mean high water line of a tidal waterway. A license may also required when agricultural activities are taking place in an area that is currently landward of the mean high water line but was, at some point, flowed by the tide.
Aquaculture activities are unique in that they take up large areas of land (water) that would otherwise be open waters of the State. In addition, they could be, but are not always, in open water without waterfront access. However, in some cases, like the rack and bag systems, acres of water could be occupied, thereby restricting boat traffic in the area.
The Tidelands Resource Council (TRC) has acknowledged the unique nature of aquaculture operations and has developed a policy that allows for these activities to be licensed in a manner that fosters aquaculture opportunities in New Jersey waters while fulfilling the Council’s obligation to collect equitable compensation for the utilization of State owned lands. Please click here to view the TRC’s policy on Aquaculture Activities.
For information and instruction on how to determine whether you are in an area that may require either a license or a grant, or for information how to apply for Tideland instruments please see the tidelands section of this website.