Authorization to Culture Non-Approved Fish Species


In accordance with the Aquaculture Development Act of 1997 (§106-761), the culture of any aquatic species not approved in the statute is “prohibited from propagation and production unless the applicant for the permit first obtains written permission from the Wildlife Resources Commission.”  Below is information to help you apply for authorization to culture aquatic species not approved in the legislation including:

If you have any questions, please contact David Deaton by phone (828) 803-6031 or email.



Complete clearly and legibly and sign the Application to Culture Aquatic Species not approved in NC General Statute § 106-761 (pdf - opens new window. If possible, complete application online before printing.)

Submit the signed application to the NC Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) to: 
Wildlife Resources Commission
Inland Fisheries Division
1721 Mail Service Center 
Raleigh, NC  27699-1700

  1. Expect a visit to your site by a District Biologist or other representative of the NCWRC. NCWRC staff may call with questions to collect information needed to complete the assessment of your proposal.
  2. Expect a letter of authorization or denial within 60 days of the submission of your application. Please contact us if you are concerned about delays in the process.
  3. Be aware the statute provides “The Department and the Wildlife Resources Commission shall have authority to enter the premises of such facilities to inspect for the possession of a species other than those authorized in subsection (b) of this section or authorized by written permission of the Wildlife Resources Commission.”  
  4. The authorization must be renewed every five years.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Process


Once I apply for an authorization, what happens next?
Upon receiving the application, the NCWRC will forward it to an authorization coordinator, who will work with a fisheries biologist in your district, and with regional and state fisheries personnel and possibly other state and federal agencies to review the proposal. The assessment will focus on the potential for escapement of the cultured fish, and on potential impacts to the existing fish community, other aquatic organisms, aquatic habitat and ongoing managemet activities if the fish escape. Consideration will also be given to the potential for release of disease organisms and the potential impact on native fish. Once a thorough review of your proposal has been completed, the Inland Fisheries Division Chief will send you a written response.

How long will it take the NCWRC to review the authorization application?
You should receive a written response within 60 days unless there are unusual circumstances or delays. 

Is there a cost associated with applying for the authorization?
There is no fee associated with the application review or issuance.

How do I know if I need an authorization?
If you wish to culture any aquatic organism for commercial purposes in a system larger than an aquarium, you should get an aquaculture license from the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. If the species you wish to culture is not approved in legislation (a list of the species approved in legislation is attached to the application form) you will need authorization from the NCWRC in addition to the aquaculture license. There are special rules for alligators.