Alaska Aquaculture Permitting

Lease and permit information for commercial marine aquaculture activities

Permits for commercial marine aquaculture activities

Authorization Amendments, Renewals, and Transfers

This section applies to farmers who are already operating a permitted farm and would like to change the conditions of their farm lease or permits or renew existing leases and permits. Information for both state and federal permit amendments, renewals, and transfers is provided below. Note that depending on the modifications, amendments to a state permit or lease may require amendments to federal permits as well.

State Authorizations

State operation permit and lease amendments, renewals, and transfers vary in process depending on the scope of the project. Amendments may require working with one agency, or all of them. Also note that renewals for ADF&G permits and ADNR leases are on a 10-year cycle, while ADEC Operational Permit and Shellfish Growing Area Classification (for shellfish farmers only) must be renewed annually.

Authorization Amendments

There are two types of amendments, the Single Agency Amendment, and the Joint Agency Amendment. See the ADF&G Amendment Matrix to help you figure out which process you need to use based on the changes you would like to make to your farm.

Single Agency Amendments (ADF&G) 

Single Agency Amendments are generally used for changes such as adding or removing a culture species or minor changes to culture gear and equipment, and only requires review from ADF&G. This process most likely will not trigger a need for an amendment to the USACE permit.

  1. Fill out and submit the ADF&G Aquatic Farm Operation Permit Amendment Request Form. ADF&G does not require a fee to view and process the amendment. If you are modifying shellfish culture species, also see the ADEC Amendments information below.
  2. Include cross-sectional and over-head drawings for any gear, equipment, and facility changes, if applicable. See drawing instructions in the Siting Your Farm, Mapping Instructions section.
  3. Include an updated project description to reflect requested change, if applicable, using the ADF&G Project Description Outline.

Joint Agency Amendments (ADF&G, ADNR)

If the proposed amendment will increase the footprint of the lease, alter its locations, or cause a significant change in gear, equipment or facilities, then a full decision and public notice process will be required (similar to a new application). The application fee for this type of amendment is $400. This process will likely trigger the need for an amendment to your USACE permit as well. See the section for amendment of federal permits below. If the proposed amendment will not increase acreage, change locations, and only makes minor changes to gear, equipment, etc. then no amendment application or public notice is required and the fee is $160. 

  1. Fill out and submit the Joint Agency Aquatic Farm Amendment Request Form with associated fee. Contact ADNR (907-269-8543, to see if a fee applies to your project. 
  2. If decreasing acreage, draw a new site plan map.
  3. If your amendment includes an increase in acreage, change in location, or significant gear, equipment, and facility changes, a full amendment application (same form as new application) will be required. This includes updated cross-sectional and over-head drawings and any other application documents that will change due to the proposed amendment. A full amendment application must go through the entire application and public notice process. See drawing instructions in the Siting Your Farm, Mapping Instructions section.
  4. Include an updated project description to reflect requested changes, using the ADF&G Project Description Outline.

ADEC Amendments

Amendments to ADEC permits are very project dependent, so be sure to contact the Shellfish Program Coordinator (907-269-7636, for more information about your specific project. Please note the following:

  • To expand a shellfish farm beyond the existing farm boundary lines, new water quality stations are required to be set up, and a minimum of 15-30 water quality samples will need to be collected to evaluate the water quality of the desired expanded area.
  • A new shoreline survey might need to be conducted, depending how expansive the new boundaries are.
  • For new shellfish species, an operator must notify the Shellfish Program Coordinator. 
  • Additional information may be requested on a case-by-case basis, depending on the species and associated processing activities. 
  • For non-shellfish species, a separate ADEC permit may be required depending on the project. Contact your Shellfish Program Coordinator. 

Authorization Renewals

ADNR, ADF&G, and ADEC all require renewals. ADNR and ADF&G renewals must happen every 10 years, while the ADEC process is annual.

ADNR Lease Renewals

ADNR lease renewals are required every 10 years. Currently the renewal process is undergoing revisions that will streamline the process for both farmers and regulators. Revisions are expected in fall of 2021. Contact ADNR at 907-269-8543, for more information.

  1. Fill out the State Joint Agency Application (same as new application).
  2. Include maps, cross-sectional and overhead drawings of gear, equipment, and facilities. See instructions in Siting Your Farm, Mapping Instructions section.
  3. Fill out and include an updated project description to reflect requested changes. See Project Description Outline.

ADF&G Operation Permit Renewals

ADF&G operation permit renewals are required every 10 years along with a $100 fee. Applicants must submit required materials at least 30 days before their permit expires. 

ADEC Renewals

ADEC renewals for both the Operations Permit and Shellfish Growing Area Classification (for shellfish farmers only) must be renewed annually. Contact the Shellfish Program Coordinator (907-269-7636, for more information about your specific project.

  • Operations Permit
    ADEC-issued permits for shellfish harvester and dealer operators are issued on a calendar year basis and expire on December 31 of each calendar year. If an operator wishes to operate in the next calendar year, a renewal application must be completed and submitted along with the associated permit fee for review. See the Licenses, Permits, and Fees page for fee information. Currently, renewal applications are emailed to operators approximately 60 days before the expiration date to allow for time to complete and submit the application. Operators who don’t have email access can contact our office to request a mailed or faxed copy of their renewal application.

  • Shellfish Growing Area Classification:
    Reapprovals are based on the water quality samples collected from active water quality stations in that area during that calendar year. There is a fee associated with reapprovals: $150 for each reapproval activity (water sample collection event for the area) and areas require 2-5 water sample collections for each station. Therefore, reapproval fees can be between $300-$750, depending on how many sampling events are required—which is dependent on the classification based on the current water quality data available. If there is more than one operation in a classified area, the total amount is prorated between the number of operators—i.e., in an area with 5 operators and a reapproval fee of $750, each operator would be invoiced $150. If there were only one operator in an area with a reapproval fee of $750, that operator would be invoiced the full $750.

Authorization Transfers

Authorization transfers of ADNR Aquatic Farming leases and ADF&G Operations Permits are allowable as described below. However, ADEC Shellfish Operations Permits and Food Establishment Permits may not be transferred and require new farm operators to reapply. 

ADNR Aquatic Farming Lease Assignments (Transfers)


    • The following information covers an ADNR lease assignment. However, sometimes an assignee wants to change aspects of the operation when receiving an assignment. Depending on the desired changes an amendment may also be required. If the amendment doesn’t require a full public process, then the assignment and amendment can typically be combined into one decision and document. This process will require more information to be provided by the assignee and may result in additional fees. The basic process is outlined below, but contact ADNR for more specific information relating to your individual lease needs.


      • When a lease assignment is requested, ADNR will send out an assignment information form to gather information from the assignor (person assigning the lease away) and the assignee (person receiving the lease). In most cases a new or updated project description may be required from the assignee.
      • After receiving the assignment information form, updated project description, and the $160 assignment fee, ADNR will use that information to write a decision to approve (or deny, but this is rare) the assignment.
      • Once the decision is signed, ADNR will send a copy of the decision and assignment documents to both parties to sign, notarize and send back.
      • The assignee will then return the signed and notarized assignment document as well as proof of insurance, a replacement bond, and any outstanding annual fee (this can be paid by either party but must be current before an assignment will be completed).
      • Once all documents and deliverables are received, ADNR will execute the assignment and officially transfer the lease to the assignee.
ADF&G Operations Permit Transfer


    A person to whom a permit is being transferred may use the operation permit only for the purposes of the original permit and is subject to the same permit conditions and limitations. A transfer requires the approval and signature of the current permit holder on the application, a $100.00 transfer fee, and must be submitted at least 30 days before the transfer is required. If you are transferring your operation permit and there is an aquatic farm lease, please contact ADNR for a reassignment of the lease. Be sure to obtain an ADNR lease reassignment before applying for an operation permit transfer unless the operation has no lease.

  1. Fill out and submit the Aquatic Farm Operation Permit Transfer or Renewal Request Form with the $100 associated fee. 
  2. If applicable, include cross-sectional and overhead drawings of gear, equipment, and facilities. See drawing instructions in the Siting Your Farm, Mapping Instructions section.
  3. If applicable, fill out and include an updated project description to reflect requested changes. See Project Description Outline

ADEC Shellfish Operations Permits and Food Establishment Permits

ADEC-issued permits for shellfish operators are not transferable. However, if the new farmer is operating within the same bounds as the previous lease, the SGA classification process does not need to be re-done, shortening the length of the process.

Bull kelp near shoreline
Bull kelp along Alaska shoreline. Photo: Mandy Lindeberg, NOAA Fisheries

Federal Permits (USACE)

The process for amending, renewing, or transferring a USACE permit may depend on the type of permit (NWP, IP, LOP) and the scope of the project. Note also that amendments to a USACE permit will almost certainly trigger the need for amendments to state permits.

Federal Permit Amendments

If requesting a modification of the structures placed in the water, provide a written request with project plans showing changes. If the project modifications are extensive, farmers may be required to reapply with a new application. Contact USACE District Office at 907-753-2712 or for more information. Any structural changes described in the USACE permit amendment will also need to be described in either the single or joint agency amendment process. See the State Authorizations section above for details.

Permit Renewals

A permit with the USACE lasts for five years. Before a permit has expired, a permit extension may be requested by submitting a written request for extension. If the permit has expired, farmers must reapply. An extension lasts for five years.

  • Individual Permits and Letters of Permission
    If there are no changes to the operation’s configuration or circumstances, review of a permit extension is typically a quick and straightforward process. However, if there have been changes to an area since the permit was issued, including, but not limited to, the presence of an ESA listed species or a new designation of critical habitat, the project will likely have to go through a more extensive review to examine impacts and ensure it still complies with relevant regulations.

  • Nationwide Permit
    For NWPs, the project will require review in order to make sure that it still qualifies for the permit. If so, it will be reverified under the current NWP until that NWP’s expiration.

Permit Transfers

The permit transfer process depends on if the original permit was an Individual Permit, Nationwide Permit, or Letter of Permission.

  • Individual Permit
    If the project was originally authorized by an individual permit, the permittee can send USACE a written request with the permit signed by the transferee in the appropriate space, and the permit will be transferred.
  • Nationwide Permit
    If the permittee sells the property associated with a nationwide permit verification, the permittee may transfer the nationwide permit verification to the new owner. Submit a letter to the USACE to validate the transfer. A copy of the nationwide permit verification must be attached to the letter, and the letter must contain the following statement and signature:

“When the structures or work authorized by this nationwide permit are still in existence at the time the property is transferred, the terms and conditions of this nationwide permit, including any special conditions, will continue to be binding on the new owner(s) of the property. To validate the transfer of this nationwide permit and the associated liabilities associated with compliance with its terms and conditions, have the transferee sign and date below.”



Letter of Permission/Multiple Permit Transfers

In the case of multiple permit transfers (where the transferee line has already been signed), or when a project has been authorized by a Letter of Permission:

  1. Request a permit transfer in writing.
  2. USACE will then prepare an affidavit for the transfer and send that to the permittee.
  3. The permittee will then need to have it signed by the transferee and notarized, and then send it back to USACE, at which point the permit transfer will be processed.