Fisheries Law: How High Is The Aquaculture Business Entrance Barrier

You can find all legislations on fisheries and aquaculture in Australia right here. But even reading them all won’t help much. Those are legal documents that are suited for your lawyer.

You, you need to start a business, right?

And want to know what you’ll need to face as a fishery startup.

When we talk about startups, we most often think tech startups and Silicon Beach. In fact, what the world needs is more agricultural startups that provide the quality and sustainability of food that matters way more than the latest apps.

To help young entrepreneurs see all the options, we decided to list all of the barriers to enter the fishing industry from a legal perspective.

As you’ll see below, when done right, the fisheries business is not only easy to get into but also can turn out to be very profitable (with the growing demand for seafood worldwide), rewarding and fulfilling line of work.

Is it worth to enter?

Australia’s commercial fishing and aquaculture industry is worth around $2.2 billion annually and employs around 11 600 people (7300 directly and 4300 indirectly) (ABARES 2011).

And don’t even get me started on the international opportunities that the fishery business presents and will offer in the future. After all, consumption of red meat and pork is seeing a slight decrease and this trend isn’t going anywhere. What are we going to offer to the world as an alternative?

But is it worth it to enter such a demanding and highly regulated  industry?

Yes, for two main reasons:

  1. It matters. If you’re looking for a business opportunity that really matters for the world, that’s it, what better than sustainable food and helping to protect marine life?
  2. It’s easier than most manufacturing industries. Starting a fishery is cheaper than most big industrial businesses and more profitable than your local brick-and-mortar store.

What are the legal barriers to enter the fishing industry?

The fishery industry is highly regulated because it involves wildlife – in particular, marine life. Every fishery activity affects the ecosystems near shore and in the ocean.

However, the barriers to enter aren’t as tough as one would think. With the help of experienced partners and professionals, you can be set in no time.

Here is what you’ll need and how you get it:

  • aquaculture permit (and lease and marine permit, depending on your farm, if applicable)
  • fishing license from the Department of Fisheries
  • pay license fees that can go from $300 to $2,000 depending on your activity
  • pass a translocation assessment if you’re going to transport fish for your fisheries where they’re not endemic
  • assessment from aquaculture branch manager
  • assessment from Environmental Protection Authority (EPA)

And that’s it – build your farm!

Here is what the Australian government says:

Aquaculture in Australia is managed under strict environmental guidelines. While the Australian Government has a number of important functions in relation to aquaculture, including national programs for research, quarantine, aquatic animal health, food safety, environmental management, and market access and trade, most elements of the regulation of domestic aquaculture production rest with the states and territories. 
Aquaculture operations, particularly those that operate in, or discharge into, public waters, are required to comply with stringent environmental controls monitored on an ongoing basis by state agencies. Strict food health standards also apply to both aquaculture and wild capture products. These environmental and food safety standards ensure fish grown in Australian waters are safe to eat and that seafood production does not unduly affect aquatic environments.

Although the government can provide information, your state or territory is the most comprehensive guide and support for starting your fishery. You can find the different portals right here.

The barriers to entry that exist in the fishing industry are licensing, taxation, industry assistance, industry volatility and capital labour intensity.

The licensing in the fishing industry occurs through output and input controls, these are the regulations and licensing policies that limit farmers.

In the fishing industry licensing is the more significant barrier. However, it isn’t a challenge to get when you have all the papers set. That’s why you need to look into the requirements in detail before taking any decisions or making investments.


Commonwealth fisheries generate over $300 million in value alone and annually produce about 52 000 tonnes of catch.

There isn’t any reason why this booming industry shouldn’t be on the radar of young entrepreneurs looking for easy and cheap industries to enter.

All you need is a lawyer experienced in fisheries law to set things for you and draft a guideline policy for your business to make sure you’re creating a sustainable and profitable fishery with international potential.

How about The Fish Lawyer?

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If you want to take your knowledge of fisheries law one step further to leverage it in your business’ advantage, especially if you’re just starting a business in the fishery industry, follow Aquarius Education on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn so you can be the first to hear about the fisheries law workshops in your area.

See you there!