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 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 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
Aquaponics Business Plan User’s Guide
Aquaponic Development Planning -Land Revitalization
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
EPA Guidance for Class V Well Owners, Operators, and Regulatory Agencies

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
10 Year Plan for Marine Aquaculture
Office of Aquaculture Priorities

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Results from the 2015 Census of  Aquaculture

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
European Aquaculture Societ
International Association of Aquatic and Marine Science Libraries and Information Centers
Network of Aquaculture Centers 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 Factsheet (Langston U.)

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

Department of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences (Auburn 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 (Univ. of Virginia)

World Aquaculture Society

National Association of State Aquaculture Coordinators

Delaware Aquaculture Resource Center  (U. DE)

Great Lakes Information Network

National Aquaculture Association

National Shellfisheries Association

Aquaponics-Integration of Hydroponics and Aquaculture (ATTRA)

Aquaculture Resources (SeaWeb)

United States Aquaculture Legislation Overview (FAO)


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)

The Aquatic Animal Drug Approval Partnership Program (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

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)