Aquaculture Certification

Eligibility

Aquaculture Certification is available to legitimate producers of aquaculture products on Florida farms and an application [Adobe PDF Document] for certification may be obtained online or by contacting the Division at (850) 617-7600. The Aquaculture Certificate application requires: 1) name, address and phone number, 2) aquaculture facility location, 3) description of production facilities, 4) list of the products cultured and estimated annual production. Applications must be signed by the farmer to certify that the statements in the application are true and that the farmer agrees to abide by Best Management Practices for Aquaculture [Adobe PDF Document 577.11 KB]. The fee for Aquaculture Certification is $100, annually, expiring on June 30 of each year.

In January of 2014, The National Shellfish Sanitation Program (NSSP) Model Ordinance was modified to include new food safety training requirements.  These changes are outlined in NSSP Guide Section II, Model Ordinance Chapter X, General Requirements.  Each dealer, harvester, aquaculture leaseholder, shellfish grower and shellfish farmer is now required to complete the FDACS approved training prior to certification, recertification or licensing.  This certificate must be maintained as proof of the training. An application/renewal for an Aquaculture Certificate of Registration that includes shellfish as a product will not be processed without a valid copy of your Annual Certificate of Harvester Education Training. 

In Florida an interactive education video was created.  It can be viewed at area workshops or at individual work stations in designated field offices throughout Florida.  Following the video, a signed certificate will be issued for submission along with any licensing or certification application.

Appointments to view the video may be made at the following FDACS locations: 

Melbourne Office (321) 984-4890
Port Charlotte Office (941) 613-0954
Cedar Key Office (352) 543-1084
Tallahassee Office (850) 617-7600
Apalachicola Shellfish Center (850) 653-8317

1) What is an Aquaculture Certificate of Registration?

Floridians that are raising aquatic species for commercial sale must annually acquire an Aquaculture Certificate of Registration from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Aquaculture Certification identifies your aquaculture products as cultured/raised products and identifies you as an aquaculturist so that there is no misidentification with the wild resource.

Examples of aquatic species include, but are not limited to, fresh, brackish or saltwater fish, molluscs, reptiles, crustaceans, plants, corals, echinoderms, and algae.

2) Why does the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services require an Aquaculture Certificate of Registration?

The Florida Legislature designated the Department as the lead state agency to encourage the development of aquaculture in Florida and to protect Florida 's environment through an annual Aquaculture Certificate of Registration and on-farm implementation of environmentally-oriented Aquaculture Best Management Practices. The Certificate and Best Management Practices have been developed with public and farmer input to ensure that commercial aquaculture facilities may not negatively effect the environment.

3) How or where is an Aquaculture Certificate of Registration application submitted?

An application form can be downloaded from this webpage, application [Adobe PDF Document], or you can call (850) 617-7600 or email Aquaculture_Web@FreshFromFlorida.com to request an application package.

For new construction, applicants must include a site plan, a construction plan and associated timeline, species production plan and associated timeline, and a description detailing the implementation of appropriate Aquaculture Best Management Practices.

4) How long does it take to receive Aquaculture Certification after an application is submitted?

Most Aquaculture Certificates of Registration can be issued with 3-4 weeks of receipt of an application by the Division of Aquaculture. The initial on-site inspection of the facility can usually be done within this period.

5) Is an Aquaculture Certificate of Registration required if no products are sold?

No. The Florida Legislature did not intend to regulate hobbyists or homeowners that grow aquatic species for personal use or consumption.

6) What are the Aquaculture Best Management Practices?

Please see our Aquaculture Best Management Practices page for more information.

7) What are the regulations concerning the processing (icing or cutting) of aquatic products for human consumption?

Floridians that process or sell food products must possess a Food Permit from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Please visit the Bureau of Food and Meat Inspection webpage for more information: http://FreshFromFlorida.com/site/Divisions-Offices/Food-Safety/Food-Inspections.

8) Are any other licenses or permits needed beyond an Aquaculture Certificate of Registration to operate an aquaculture facility?

Aquaculture facilities that use well water will have to acquire a consumptive use permit (CUP) from one of Florida 's five water management districts. Please visit http://www.dep.state.fl.us/secretary/watman/ for more information or consult your telephone directory to find a district office near you.

Aquaculture activities are defined as point source dischargers under the Clean Water Act. If an aquaculture facility produces more than 100,000 pounds of live product and discharges production-related water off the farm for more than 30 days per year, then they must acquire a National Pollution Discharge Elimination Permit. Call the Division of Aquaculture at (850) 617-7600 or email Aquaculture_Web@FreshFromFlorida.com for more information.

 Policies

As stated in the Florida Aquaculture Policy Act, "Any person engaging in aquaculture in the State of Florida must be certified by the department". The purpose of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' Aquaculture Certification Program is to identify aquaculture producers and aquacultural products. An Aquaculture Certification number must be on all aquaculture products from harvest to point of sale. Certification identifies aquacultural products as an agricultural commodity and entitles the aquafarmer to the same benefits bestowed upon other agricultural producers. The certificate also exempts the aquafarmer from certain requirements of wild-harvested species, offers tax advantages and reduces the number of permits required from other regulatory agencies.