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Aquaculture Leases

The Department grants several different types of leases and one type of license. When a lease or license is issued a grower is being given the right to use public waters for a particular period of time to raise particular organisms in a particular place. A lease or license gives a farmer legal protection for their product. However these grants are not exclusive and allow for other types of compatible activities to occur within the lease or license area.

Limited-purpose leases

These are frequently called experimental leases. They are small in size (up to 2 acres) and short in duration (up to 3 years), and were created to allow for commercial and scientific research with shellfish or finfish on sites before a longer or larger lease is needed. These leases are granted with less application requirements and do not require the same level of review as standard leases. Limited-purpose leases cannot be renewed unless they are for scientific research. A limited-purpose lease for commercial research expires at the end of the 3-year period. The leaseholder may then apply for a standard lease.

Go to experimental lease law
Go to lease regulations - see Chapter 2, section 2.64
Go to experimental lease application

Standard leases

Standard leases are bigger (up to 100 acres) and longer in duration (up to ten years) than experimental leases, and they can be renewed and transferred. Because the State is interested in developing a diversified aquaculture industry there is a limit of 300 non-fallowed acres of standard leases that can be held by any one tenant. A leaseholder may hold an aggregate of 500 acres if he or she meets certain requirements regarding fallowed acreage. Standard leases are issued for both bottom and suspended culture and rear shellfish, finfish, and seaweed.

Go to standard lease law
Go to lease regulations - see Chapter 2, section 2.10
Go to standard lease applications

Limited-purpose aquaculture license

The limited-purpose aquaculture (LPA) licensing program provides applicants with the opportunity to obtain a one-year license to rear any of five specific species of shellfish (mussels, oysters, soft-shell clams, quahogs, and hen clams) using particular gear types that cover no more than 400 square feet of area. Because the license is specific to certain gear and certain species on a very small amount of area, licenses can be approved without the extensive review that is required for either an experimental or standard lease. The intention of this program, developed at the suggestion of shellfish growers two years ago, is to streamline the permitting process so that growers can "try out" different locations prior to applying for a lease. As well this program will allow for the placement of upwellers, or floating shellfish nurseries, in marina slips without the need to obtain a lease.

Go to LPA law
Go to lease regulations - see Chapter 2, section 2.90
Go to LPA application

Emergency shellfish lease

For existing shellfish lease holders the Department has the authority to issue an emergency lease to allow shellfish stock to be moved temporarily off an existing lease when the health and safety of the shellfish are threatened. The emergency lease can only be granted for a period of six months.

Go to emergency shellfish lease law
Go to lease regulations - see Chapter 2, section 2.65