Raising aquatic animals for the purpose of human consumption has been practiced for many centuries. Ancient Chinese records indicate that common carp was raised more than 4,000 years ago. Hieroglyphics in the tombs of the Pharaohs describe tilapia farming in ancient Egypt. The Romans built small ponds for raising fish. Although the practice of aquaculture has a long history, until recently there was no reason for intensive development of fish farming techniques. There were abundant supplies of fishes and shellfishes from natural sources. However, world population growth and increasing per capita consumption of fishes and shellfishes have resulted in over-exploitation of some species, stimulating the further development of the industry. Read the full overview

Note: Recently added resources are posted at the top of the applicable sections.

Major Statutes

Animal Health Protection Act, 7 U.S.C. § 8301- 8321
Coastal Zone Management Act, 1990 and 1996 Amendments, 16 U.S.C. § 1451- 1466
Columbia River Basin Fishery Development Program, 16 U.S.C. § 835- 835m
Commercial Fisheries Research and Development Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 742(c), 779
Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 1531-1544
Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), 7 U.S.C. §§ 136-136y
Federal Water Pollution Control Act (a/k/a Clean Water Act), 33 U.S.C. §§ 1251- 1387
Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, 16 U.S.C. § 661-667d

Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, 21 U.S.C. §§ 301-397
Interjurisdictional Fisheries Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 742c, 779, 4001
Lacey Act, 18 U.S.C. §§ 41-48
Lacey Act Amendments, 16 U.S.C §3371-3378
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, 16 U.S.C. § 1801- 1891d
Marine Mammal Protection Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 1361-1423h
Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act of 1972, 16 U.S.C. §§ 1431-1445
National Aquaculture Act of 1980, 16 U.S.C. §§ 2801-2810
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, 42 U.S.C. §§ 4321-4370f
Nonindigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control Act of 1990, 16 U.S.C. § 4701-4751
Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, 16 U.S.C. § 1456-1466


Coastal Zone Management Act Regulations, 15 C.F.R. §§ 923.1-923.135
Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act Regulations, 21 C.F.R. Parts 1-99
Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) Regulations, 40 C.F.R. Parts 150-180
Federal Water Pollution Control Act (a/k/a Clean Water Act) Regulations, 40 C.F.R. Parts 104-424
Lacey Act Regulations, 50 C.F.R. §§ 14.1-14.225
Endangered Species Act Regulations, 50 C.F.R. §§ 17.1-17.108
Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act of 1972 Regulations, 50 C.F.R. §§ 18.1-18.129
National Marine Fisheries Service (Shellfish) Regulations, 50 C.F.R. Part 260
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act Regulations, 50 C.F.R. Part 300
Animals and Animal Products Regulations, C.F.R., Title 9

Case Law

Case Law Index for Aquaculture

Center Research Publications

State-Specific Direct Marketing Business Guides (National AgLaw Center & U. IL @Urbana)

Aquaculture and the Lacey Act – Research Article (Springsteen, 2010)

State-Level Catfish Labeling Laws (Springsteen, 2009)

Congressional Research Service Reports

CRS Subject(s):

Disaster Impact and Assistance
Food Safety

Agricultural Law Bibliography

Introduction   |   Keyword Search   |   Browse Categories

Legal publications on Aquaculture:

Environmental Issues
Finance and Credit
International Trade
Sustainable and Organic Farming

Reference Resources

Agricultural Research Service (ARS)

Aquaculture National Program

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)

Aquaculture Disease Information

State and Territory Import Regulations for Aquaculture

North Central Regional Aquaculture Center

Aquaculture Law in the North Central States (May 1992)

Center for Tropical and Subtropical Aquaculture

Western Regional Aquaculture Center

Southern Regional Aquaculture Center

Northeastern Regional Aquaculture Center

Economic Research Service (ERS)

Briefing Room: Aquaculture
Publication: Aquaculture Data (2008)
Publication: Aquaculture Outlook (1995-2006)
Publication: Country of Origin Labeling: Theory and Observation

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Aquaculture Operations
Aquaculture Operations: Best Management Practices
Aquaculture Operations: Laws, Regulations, Policies, and Guidance
Compliance Guide for the Concentrated Aquatic Animal Production Point Source Category
Effluent Guidelines: Aquatic Animal Production Industry
Aquatic Life: Biologic Criteria
Class V Fact Sheet: Aquaculture Waste Disposal Wells

National Agricultural Library (NAL)


Organic Aquaculture

Aquaculture Business Planning

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Aquaculture Program
Aquaculture Library
10 Year Plan for Marine Aquaculture
Aquaculture Information Center (retired site)

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

2002 Census of Aquaculture Publication

International Resources

Aquaculture (Fisheries and Oceans Canada)

Aquaculture (European Commission)

Fisheries and Aquaculture Department (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations)

National Aquaculture Legislation Overview
Glossary of Aquaculture

The World Fish Center
Asian Fisheries Society
Australian Aquaculture Portal
European Aquaculture Society
International Association of Aquatic and Marine Science Libraries and Information Centers
Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacific
World Organization for Animal Health

World Trade Organization

Agriculture Agreement
Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS)

Additional Resources

Aquaculture Posts (Ag & Food Law Blog)

Aquaculture (Langston U.)

Aquaculture (WI Dept. of Ag., Trade and Consumer Protection)

Department of Fisheries and Allied Aquacultures (Auburn U.)

Aquaculture (W. Va. U.)

Aquaculture (NC Dept of Ag. and Consumer Services)

Making Plans for Commercial Aquaculture in the North-Central Region

Gerard J. Mangone Center for Marine Policy

Marine and Environmental Law Institute

Center for Oceans Law and Policy

American Veterinary Medical Association

World Aquaculture Society

National Association of State Aquaculture Coordinators

Delaware Aquaculture Resource Center Home Page (U. DE)

Great Lakes Information Network

National Aquaculture Association

National Shellfisheries Association

Aquaculture Enterprises: Considerations and Strategies (ATTRA)

Aquaculture Resources (Seaweb)

United States Aquaculture Legislation Overview (FAO)


Guide to Drug, Vaccine, and Pesticide Use in Aquaculture (Joint Subcommittee on Aquaculture, 4/07)

National Marine Fisheries Service: Improvements Are Needed in the Federal Process Used to Protect Marine Mammals from Commercial Fishing (GAO-09-78, 12/08)

Offshore Marine Aquaculture: Multiple Administrative and Environmental Issues Need to Be Addressed in Establishing a U.S. Regulatory Framework (GAO-08-594, 5/08)

Potential to Operate Greenhouses and Aquaculture in Conjunction with Iowa’s Ethanol Plants (Leopold Center for Sustainable Ag., 2008)

Business Planning for Aquaculture: Is It Feasible? (NE Regional Aquaculture Center)

Fish Farm Business Plan Workbook

State of World Aquaculture (FAO, 2006)

Sustainable Marine Aquaculture: Fulfilling the Promise, Managing the Risks (Marine Aquaculture Task Force)

Offshore Marine Aquaculture in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ): Legal and Regulatory Concerns (Reiser and Bunsick)

Marine Aquaculture in the United States: Current and Future Policy and Management Challenges (DeVoe)

Planning and Management for Sustainable Coastal Aquaculture Development (Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection)

The Legal & Regulatory Environment: Offshore Aquaculture Permitting Process in the Gulf of Mexico (Fletcher et al.)

Publications of the Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection

Marine Aquaculture: Opportunities for Growth (Committee on Assessment of Technology and Opportunities for Marine Aquaculture in the United States, 1992)

Recommended Readings and Publications
 (not freely available electronically)

Div. of Contracting and Gen. Servs., U.S. Fish and Wildlife Serv., Federal Regulations Affecting the Development and Operation of Commercial Aquaculture, Vol. 1, (Aspen Sys. Corp., 1980)

Div. of Contracting and Gen. Servs., U.S. Fish and Wildlife Serv., Aquaculture — Law and Legislation — United States, (Aspen Sys. Corp., 1980)

Gingerich, Duane J., Aquaculture in the United States: Regulatory Constraints (Aspen Sys. Corp., 1981)
Howarth, William, The Law of Aquaculture (Fishing News Books Ltd., 1990)