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Shellfish Propagation Permits for Aquaculture

One of the largest efforts of the shellfish program is aquaculture management. If you are interested in learning about aquaculture or getting a permit, read on.

MEPA Special Review Procedure (SRP)

MEPA's environmental review process (301 CMR 11.00) serves to provide meaningful opportunities for public review of the potential environmental impacts, including cumulative impacts, of projects for which “Agency Action” is required, and to consider project alternatives to ensure that environmental impacts are avoided, minimized, and mitigated to the maximum extent practicable. DMF's certification of municipal aquaculture site licenses is considered a state Agency Action which puts aquaculture projects that meet or exceed MEPA review thresholds within MEPA jurisdiction. The Shellfish Aquaculture SRP is intended to reduce the administrative burden and increase the efficiency of MEPA review for the majority of new shellfish aquaculture projects subject to DMF certification that have predictable and minimal individual impacts. The Shellfish Aquaculture SRP was implemented on September 9, 2023  as a 1-year pilot and a 1st Amended SRP extended the expiration date of the SRP until January 15, 2024. A 2nd Amended SRP was implemented on January 16, 2024. The 2nd Amended SRP extends the expiration date of the SRP until June 1, 2028 to align with the General Permit for Aquaculture adopted by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) and projects that are 2 or less acres in size that were previously exempt from any MEPA filing under the 1st Amended SRP are now required under the proposed 2nd Amended SRP to submit the DMF Aquaculture Description Form to MEPA for a 20-day public comment period.

Review the existing SRP and associated Aquaculture Description Form by following the links below.

Additional Resources

About Aquaculture Management

The Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) Shellfish Program regulates shellfish aquaculture. If you are involved in this activity, we can help you by:

  • Licensing aquaculture sites by municipalities
  • Permitting aquaculturists to get and keep sub-legal shellfish for transplant and grow-out to legal size.

DMF assists municipalities by certifying after inspection of the project area (as required by statute Chapter 130, Sec. 57;MGL) that a license and operation will cause no large negative effect on shellfish or other natural resources of the city or town.

If you are an aquaculturist, you must get a DMF propagation permit each year. Each permit is specific to the needs of the individual grower based upon a permit application.

The purpose of this process is to control the introduction of shellfish diseases, non-native shellfish species and other pests or predators into Massachusetts's waters. About 400 propagation permits are issued each year.

Other related activities include:

  • Assisting individuals in the licensing and permitting process.
  • Providing information on aquaculture to interested parties.
  • Assisting municipalities with site selection before formal site survey to avoid DMF denial.
  • Assisting growers in finding seed sources.
  • Working with hatcheries to become certified to sell seed in Massachusetts.

If you are interested in a propagation permit, please contact Chrissy Petitpas at (508) 742-9766  or email: Christian.petitpas@mass.gov

Additional Resources

Contact   for Shellfish Propagation Permits for Aquaculture


DMF Staff Directory View 


(508) 990-0449


836 S Rodney French Blvd, New Bedford, MA 02744

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