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Overview of Georgia Aquaculture Regulations


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Regulating Agencies in Georgia
Basic Requirements to Raise and Sell Fish

The table below gives a basic overview of  the types of licenses and permits that may be required for raising and selling various fish species or invertebrate organisms (i.e. freshwater prawns/shrimp and crawfish) in Georgia. Contact details and links to additional information are provided where necessary. Please be aware that definitions play an important role in determining what licenses or permits may be required. Links to appropriate definitions have been provided where necessary.


Licenses or Permits 

Contact or More Information 

Domestic Fish Culture and/or Sales

 Does NOT include grass carp or tilapia (or exotic fish)

( Domestic fish defined)

 Aquaculture Registration (DNR)

Special Permits Unit


Aquarium or Pet Trade Fish Sales

 Pet Dealer's License

 Georgia Department of Agriculture - Animal Industry Division

Grass Carp Culture or Sales

 Wild Animal License (DNR)

 Special Permits Unit

Grass Carp Dealer  information

Tilapia Culture or Sales (or any other exotic, non-pet trade fish sales)

See tilapia information here


Freshwater Shrimp/ Prawns or Crawfish Culture and/or Live Sales

 No DNR permits required


 Processed or Mobile Fish Sales For Human Consumption (Not Live Fish)

(NOTE: this also includes FW prawns/ shrimp & crawfish) 

Any necessary DNR permits, licenses, or Aquaculture Registration PLUS one or more of the following
(Dept. of Agriculture):

  • Mobile Sales License
  • Processing Facility License
  • Wholesale Fish Dealers License   

Georgia Department of Agriculture -  Food Safety Division

Other Fish Culture and Sales Not Covered Above

 (Examples: reselling  commercially caught fish, selling or reselling non-domestic fish, selling fish under "tank and aquaria exclusion" of O.C.G.A. 27-5-5)    

Wholesale, Retail and Catch-out Pond Licenses - DNR License Unit

Pond Draining Permit - DNR Law Enforcement 


The information below provides additional information and descriptions of the most commonly required permits and licenses referenced in the table above. It is not all inclusive. Potential fish dealers and aquaculturists should consult the more detailed  "Summary of Permits and Licenses Required for Georgia Aquaculture" for full license and permit information.

Definitions of terms related to aquaculture licensing and fish sales are presented here (click for link to definitions) for reference.

  • For questions and additional information on obtaining an Aquaculture Registration or a license to sell grass carp (Wild Animal License) contact the WRD Special Permits Unit office at 770-761-3044.   Aquaculture Registration Application Form.
  • For technical assistance with aquaculture production, fish culture, or ponds please contact the appropriate District or Regional Fisheries Management office that handles the county that your business operation or pond is located in. You may find the appropriate office by clicking here (choose "Fisheries Management" for the office search).
  • Commercial Fish Dealers Licenses, as described in table and below, are issued by the DNR License Unit 706-557-3244. A commercial license application form may be obtained from that office.
Aquaculture Registration (obtained from DNR Special Permits Unit) 

Aquaculturists producing and selling or re-selling domestic fish may register (free) with the Department of Natural Resources.  "Domestic fish" are lawfully obtained farmed fish which are held in confinement in private ponds, but only if they are fish species which are either indigenous to Georgia or are fish species which have been recognized before 1992 as having an established population in Georgia's public waters.  White perch (Morone americana) cannot be considered a domestic fish.  A Commercial Fish Hatchery License, Wholesale Fish Dealers License (DNR), or Retail Fish Dealers License are not needed to sell domestic fish if the seller has registered as an aquaculturist.  Persons in possession of domestic fish from registered aquaculturists must have a bill of sale or lading which provides the date of the sale, identifies the seller and which details two of the following three criteria for each species of fish: number, weight, or average length.  Grocery stores do not have to register to sell domestic fish.  Aquaculture Registration certificates expire on April 1 following two years of registration.  Information provided by the aquaculturist for registration must be updated if there are changes during the registration period.  Registration certificates should be displayed in a prominent location at the place of business, and a copy should be in possession of the owner or his agents when conducting business off the premises.

Examples of fish species that may NOT be raised or sold with an Aquaculture Registration and which require additional licenses include tilapia  and grass carp, although these are not the only species. All grass carp dealers must be licensed through DNR (Wild Animal License).

Examples of species of fish that ARE included on the Aquaculture Registration application:

  • Channel catfish
  • Largemouth bass
  • Rainbow, brown, and brook  trout
  • Crappie
  • Bluegill
  • Redear sunfish
  • Hybrid sunfish
  • Hybris bass
  • Golden shiner
  • Fathead minnow
  • Goldfish
  • Koi
  • Common carp
  • Freshwater drum
  • Smallmouth buffalo
  • Red drum
  • Gizzard shad
  • Threadfin shad
  • Paddlefish
  • Yellow perch
  • Mosquitofish
Fish Dealers Licenses (obtained from the DNR License Unit)

A Wholesale ($59 annually) or Retail ($10 annually) Fish Dealers License is needed to sell live fish or fish eggs.  Exceptions include persons with a Commercial Fish Hatchery License, persons selling fish for use in aquaria, and registered aquaculturists selling only domestic fish (see definition of domestic fish under Aquaculture Registration above).  A Wholesale License is needed for persons selling fish to others for the purpose of resale, and for those persons importing live fish or eggs into the state.  A Retail License is needed in other instances.  Nonresident persons may sell and import live fish and eggs into the state without purchasing a license if they sell to a Department of Natural Resources licensed wholesale fish dealer.  Fish sold from licensed dealers must be accompanied by a bill of sale or lading which provides the date of the transaction, identifies the seller and which details two of the following three criteria for each species of fish: number, weight, or average length.

Wild Animal License to sell regulated fish (obtained from DNR Special Permits Unit)

This license ($236 annually) is required to possess, import, transport, transfer, sell or purchase any wild animal including exotic fish species.  No license is needed for exotic fish (see exceptions below) if they are held in containers for holding fish from which no water is discharged, except during periodic cleaning, and which discharged water is passed through a filtering system capable of removing all fish and fish eggs and is disposed of only in a septic tank permitted by the county or in a waste water treatment system permitted by the Environmental Protection Division.  Exotic fish are all fish species not native to Georgia.  However, rainbow trout, brown trout, common carp, goldfish, and fathead minnow are examples of non-native fish that are not considered exotic fish for regulatory purposes.  Exceptions: A wild animal license is always needed to possess:

  • Banded tetra (Astyanax faciatus)
  • Piranhas (all species including the Genera Serrasalmus, Serrasalmo, Pygocentrus, Taddyella, Rooseveltiella, and Pygopristis)
  • Grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella, see exception below)
  • Silver carp (Hypophthal-michthys molitrix)
  • Bighead carp (Aristichthys nobilis)
  • Air-breathing catfishes (all species of the Family Clariidae)
  • Parasitic catfish (Genera Vandellia and Urinophilus - all species)

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