Raising aquatic animals for the purpose of human consumption has been practiced for many centuries. Ancient Chinese records indicate that the common carp was raised more than 4,000 years ago. The hieroglyphics in the tombs of the Pharaohs describe tilapia farming in ancient Egypt, while the Romans built small ponds for raising fish and oysters. Although the practice of aquaculture has a long history, until recently there was no reason for intensive development of fish farming techniques. At one point there was an abundant supply 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- 8322
Coastal Zone Management Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 1451- 1467
Columbia River Basin Fishery Development Program, 16 U.S.C. §§ 835- 835m
Commercial Fisheries Research and Development Act,16 U.S.C. §§ 742c
Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 1531-1544
Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, 7 U.S.C. §§ 136-136y
Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. §§ 1251- 1388
Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 661-667h
Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, 21 U.S.C. §§ 301-399
Interjurisdictional Fisheries Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 4101-07
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. §§ 1431-1445c-1
National Aquaculture Act of 1980, 16 U.S.C. §§ 2801-2810
National Environmental Policy Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 4321-4370m
Nonindigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control Act of 1990, 16 U.S.C. § 4701-4751


Coastal Zone Management Act Regulations , 15 C.F.R. §§ 923.1-923.135
Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act Regulations, 21 C.F.R. §§ 1-99
Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act Regulations, 40 C.F.R. §§ 150-180
Clean Water Act Regulations, 40 C.F.R. §§ 104-108, 110-117, 122-140, 230-233, 401-471, 501-503
Lacey Act Regulations , 50 C.F.R. §§ 13.48-14.225
Lacey Act Amendments Regulations, 50 C.F.R. §§ 300.1-300.341
Endangered Species Act Regulations, 50 C.F.R. §§ 17.1-17.199
Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act of 1972 Regulations, 40 C.F.R. §§ 220-229
National Marine Fisheries Service (Shellfish) Regulations, 50 C.F.R. §§ 260.1-260.104
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act Regulations, 50 C.F.R. §§ 600.5-600.1610
Animals and Animal Products Regulations, C.F.R.: Title 9
Marine Mammal Protection Act Regulations, 50 C.F.R. §§ 18.1-18.141

Case Law

Case Law Index for Aquaculture

Center Research Publications

The State of Organic Aquaculture in the United States (Nichols, June 2019)
State-Specific Direct Marketing Business Guides (National AgLaw Center & U. IL @Urbana)
Animal Welfare Standards and Commercial Aquaculture Operations (Otts, 2015)
Aquaculture and the Lacey Act – Research Article (Springsteen, 2010)
State-Level Catfish Labeling Laws (Springsteen, 2009)

Congressional Research Service Reports

CRS Reports– published and made available by CRS beginning in 2017
Subjects- published by CRS and made available by NALC until 2018:

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 Information
Aquatic Animal Diseases

Economic Research Service (ERS)

Briefing Room: Aquaculture
Publication: Aquaculture Data
Publication: Country of Origin Labeling: Theory and Observation

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Aquaponics Business Plan User’s Guide
Aquaponic Development Planning -Land Revitalization
Concentrated Aquatic Animal Production Compliance Guide and Reporting Forms
Compliance Guide for the Concentrated Aquatic Animal Production Point Source Category
Class V Fact Sheet: Aquaculture Waste Disposal Wells
Agriculture: Laws and Regulations that Apply to Your Agricultural Operation by Farm Activity
NPDES Aquaculture Permitting
Concentrated Aquatic Animal Production Effluent Guidelines
Biological Water Quality Criteria

National Agricultural Library (NAL)

Aquaculture: Business Planning
Aquaculture: Federal Government Agencies
Aquaculture Data, Statistics, and Research Organizations
Organic Aquaculture

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Aquaculture Program
Aquaculture Library
Census of Aquaculture
Office of Aquaculture Priorities

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Aquaculture is Agriculture: USDA’s Role in Supporting Farmers of Fish and Shellfish
Census of Aquaculture
Cool and Cold Water Aquaculture Research

Regional Aquaculture Centers

North Central Regional Aquaculture Center
Center for Tropical and Subtropical Aquaculture
Western Regional Aquaculture Center
Southern Regional Aquaculture Center
Northeastern Regional Aquaculture Center

U.S. Food & Drug Administration

Aquaculture Research
Aquaculture and Aquaculture Drug Basics
Drug Use in Aquaculture Enforcement
FDA Guidance on Aquaculture Drugs
Drug Use in Aquaculture Enforcement

International Resources

Aquaculture (Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
Aquaculture(European Commission)
Aquaculture (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations)

Glossary of Aquaculture

The World Fish Center
Asian Fisheries Society
European Aquaculture Society
International Association of Aquatic and Marine Science Libraries and Information Centers
Network of Aquaculture Centers in Asia-Pacific
World Aquaculture Society
World Trade Organization

Agriculture Agreement
Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures

Additional Resources

Aquaculture Posts(Ag & Food Law Blog)
Aquaculture Factsheet (Langston U.)
Making Plans for Commercial Aquaculture in the North-Central Region (U. of MO Extension)
National Aquaculture Legislation Overview (NALO)
Delaware Aquaculture Resource Center  (U. DE)
National Aquaculture Association
Oyster Aquaculture (U. of MD Extension)
Aquaculture (U. of FL Extension)


Regulatory Landscape of the U.S. Aquaculture Supply Chain (Staples, et. al., 2021)
Preventing Escape of Non-Native Species from Aquaculture Facilities in Florida (Tuckett, et. al., 2020)
Stewart, A Current Affair: Ensuring Sustainable Aquaculture in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone, 20 Vermont J. ENVTL. L. 70-94 (2019)
Overview of Food Fraud in the Fisheries Sector (Reilly, 2018, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations)
The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2018 (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2018)
The Big “Blue” Nation: Expanding Aquaculture in Kentucky, 10 KY. J. EQUINEM AGRI., AND NAT. RESOURCES L. 89-109 (2017-2018)
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)
Sustainable Marine Aquaculture: Fulfilling the Promise, Managing the Risks (Marine Aquaculture Task Force, 2007)
Fish Farm Business Plan Workbook (Daily et. al., 2002)
Planning and Management for Sustainable Coastal Aquaculture Development (Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection, 2001)
The Legal & Regulatory Environment: Offshore Aquaculture Permitting Process in the Gulf of Mexico (Fletcher et al.)