Washington, Oregon and California Aquaculture Resources and Permitting Information
Guidance and resources regarding local, state, and federal permitting for aquaculture in Washington, Oregon and California.
For aquaculture in Federal and state waters along the West Coast, permits are generally required from local, state and Federal agencies and may include coordination with local tribes. Please note this is not an exhaustive list and it is incumbent on the applicant to secure all required permits.
Federal Permitting Process
This page provides links and information to assist applicants seeking approvals from federal and state agencies with regulatory jurisdiction over aquaculture on the U.S. West Coast. Many projects require federal permitting that may trigger both Endangered Species Act and Essential Fish Habitat consultation requirements.
Please contact NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region Aquaculture Coordinators for additional guidance.
- Washington/Oregon: Dan Tonnes at Dan.Tonnes@noaa.gov
- California: Diane Windham at Diane.Windham@noaa.gov
Endangered Species Act Consultation
Many aquaculture projects require a Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act or a Section 404 of the Clean Water Act permit from the Army Corps of Engineers, or other Federal agency authorization. Under section 7(a)(2) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), Federal agencies must consult with NOAA Fisheries on activities that may affect a listed species. These interagency, or Section 7, consultations are designed to assist Federal agencies in fulfilling their duty to ensure any action they authorize, fund, or carry out is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of a listed species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of designated critical habitat. In fulfilling these requirements, each agency must use the best scientific and commercial data available.
Below we provide information on the ESA Section 7 consultation process for action agencies.
- NOAA Fisheries ESA Section 7 Consultations on the West Coast
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Section 7 Information for Washington
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Section 7 Information for Oregon
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Section 7 Information for California
Essential Fish Habitat Consultation
Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) is the habitat necessary for fish to spawn, breed, feed, or grow to maturity. Under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, Federal agencies must consult with NOAA Fisheries regarding any action authorized, funded, or undertaken, or proposed to be authorized, funded, or undertaken that may adversely affect EFH.
Federal agencies notify NOAA Fisheries when a proposed action may adversely affect EFH or they will provide NOAA Fisheries with an EFH Assessment. NOAA Fisheries will make EFH Conservation Recommendations in response. NOAA Fisheries can offer Conservation Recommendations to state agencies during their review process, though it is not a requirement.
- Essential Fish Habitat on the West Coast
- Essential Fish Habitat Mapper Tool
- Pacific Fisheries Management Council Habitat and EFH
We provide the list of Federal agencies that commonly interact with/permit aquaculture on the West Coast. We recommend potential applicants reach out to appropriate Federal agencies regarding their regulatory requirements for additional guidance prior to submitting permit applications, as guided by the information at each agency website.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
- Obtaining a Permit
- Shellfish Aquaculture Permitting Update (presentation slides) March 2021
- Technical Guidelines for Identifying and Delineating Eelgrass Beds
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
U.S. Coast Guard
Tribal Nations Resources
There are 151 Federally-recognized tribal nations in the U.S. West Coast. However, there are many other non-federally-recognized tribal partners. Most tribes have websites with valuable information about their tribe, related treaties, and the tribal government/departments. Many of the tribes also are represented by intertribal organizations.
The list below includes Federally-recognized tribes with available websites and a link to a more exhaustive list of tribes in California from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
The tribal requirements for aquaculture permitting vary between states and tribal governments. Please contact NOAA Fisheries’ West Coast Region Aquaculture Coordinators for additional guidance.
State Aquaculture Permitting Resources and Additional Information
- Washington Joint Aquatic Resources Permit Application (JARPA) Form
- The JARPA Form was created to streamline the environmental permitting process, allowing applicants to apply for several Federal, state and local permits at a time.
- Washington Department of Agriculture: Aquaculture
- Washington Department of Natural Resources: Land Leasing
- Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife: Commercial Licensing
- Washington Department of Ecology
- Washington Shellfish Initiative
- Washington Department of Health Shellfish Program
- Washington Department of Natural Resources: Shellfish
- Washington Sea Grant Shellfish
- Washington Shellfish Trail
- Oregon Aquaculture Users Guide - A helpful guide regarding the permitting process that includes which government agencies issue various permits.
- Portland District Army Corps of Engineers National & Regional Permits
- Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Private Fish and Shellfish Licensing
- Oregon Department of Environmental Quality Water Quality Permits and Applications
- Oregon Department of State Lands Removal-fill Permit
- Oregon Aquaculture Association
- Oregon Sea Grant Aquaculture
- Oregon Department of Agriculture Shellfish Licensing
- Oregon Department of Agriculture Shellfish Plat Leasing
- Oregon Department of Health Shellfish Resources
- California Office of Aquaculture: Permitting Guidance - Provides an overview of the federal, state, tribal, and local permits for private and public waters in California. Contact the Office of Aquaculture for assistance throughout the permitting process.
- Note: There are additional permits for public lands.
- GreenWave: Guide to Navigating Lease & Permit Approvals for Ocean Farming in California - Provides an overview of necessary permits, projected timelines and projected costs.
- California Department of Fish and Wildlife
- California Department of Public Health: Processed Food Registration
- California State Water Resources Council
- California Coastal Commission: Coastal Development Permit
- California Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development - Use the GoBIZ permitting tool to determine which local permits are required for aquaculture development.
- Note: Contact the Office of Aquaculture to verify all necessary permits.