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Aquaculture FAQ


Aquaculture is farming. Two principles especially apply: 1. Both are hard work; 2. Both are driven by the MARKET. You should establish your market before you grow your fish.

A number of essential fact sheets on beginning aquaculture can be found at the Resources page on the UMass Extension Aquaculture website.

Aquaculture involves the manipulation of marine or freshwater organisms and/or their environment before eventual release, harvest, or capture; the controlled cultivation and harvest of aquatic animals and plants.

Marine aquaculture in the state is presently limited to the cultivation of shellfish (quahogs, oysters and scallops) for commercial, research, and propagation purposes. There are no coastal finfish farms in the state and only very limited work, primarily for research purposes, is dedicated to seaweed culture. Proposals for offshore fish farms and shellfish culture have just recently been proposed in the state and are undergoing permit review. The inland aquaculture industry is comprised primarily of a handful of highly technical recirculating facilities located mainly in the western part of the state (with one on Cape Cod). These facilities produce hybrid striped bass, tilapia, barramundi, trout and other finfish. Additionally, there are a number of small pond and flow-through facilities located throughout Massachusetts.


Species grown in Massachusetts include Atlantic salmon, barramundi, bluegill, rainbow trout, brook trout, brown trout, brown bullhead, golden shiner, hybrid striped bass, koi, largemouth bass, rainbow trout, and tilapia. These species run the gamut from those native to the Commonwealth such as brook trout and Atlantic salmon to truly exotics such as the African tilapia and Australian barramundi. The reasons for culturing these species are as varied as the fish themselves: from recreational fishing to food to restoration efforts.

Photos: Some of the finfish aquaculture in Massachusetts

More information can be found in the fact sheet:
Freshwater Aquaculture Species in the Northeast (pdf format)


In order to protect natural resources of the Commonwealth from such problems as invasive species and water pollution, aquaculture is of necessity a highly regulated activity. Permits are required to import, hold, grow and transport fish. When large quantities of water are used or discharged, permits are also required.

A description of the permits required may be found starting on page 41 of Best Management Practices for Finfish Aquaculture in Massachusetts (pdf format)


There are a number of technical and information resources available in Massachusetts and abroad. Massachusetts is fortunate to have three regional state aquaculture centers located in southeastern northeastern and western Massachusetts. In addition to staff expertise at each of the centers, the centers also house a great deal of aquaculture information.

Links to the Massachusetts Aquaculture Centers:

Western Massachusetts Center for Sustainable Aquaculture (WMCSA)
This site also provides references and links for fact sheets produced in regional aquaculture centers throughout the country.

Southeastern Massachusetts Aquaculture Center (SEMAC)

Northeastern Massachusetts Aquaculture Center (NEMAC)