Opportunities for New Aquaculture Businesses 

Now is a great time to start an Aquaculture Business in Connecticut! The Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Aquaculture is responsible for running the shellfish sanitation program and regulating the shellfish industry for the entire Connecticut coastline. The Bureau has been working to expand and create opportunities for new companies. 

July 1, 2023 - Statewide aquaculture opportunity for new and small shellfish operations

Public Act 23-184

Sec. 11. Section 26-194 of the general statutes is amended by adding subsection (g) as follows:

(NEW) (g) The Commissioner of Agriculture shall encourage the development and expansion of new and existing small-scale aquaculture operations for shellfish. The commissioner may designate shellfish grounds available for annual leasing to such small-scale aquaculture operations under the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, except that the commissioner may require that all bidders be a small-scale aquaculture operation or offer such leases at a fixed price determined by the commissioner. Each applicant and all required individuals associated with the applicant shall have obtained the necessary licenses under chapter 491 prior to the commencement of the lease. All provisions of section 26-192c shall apply to leases issued pursuant to this subsection. For purposes of this subsection, "small-scale Substitute House Bill No. 6725 Public Act No. 23-184 12 of 12 aquaculture operation" means an aquaculture operation that either operates in one hundred fifty acres or less of shellfish grounds or that has operated for the production of shellfish for four or fewer years.

The legislation provides the Department the opportunity to address the historic need of new and small shellfish operations, by providing a designated area in waters under State jurisdiction. One goal of this legislation includes supporting the establishment and equitable growth of small shellfish operations by making access to leased grounds more affordable and obtainable.

Individuals interested should send a request through Agri.Aquaculture@ct.gov.

Provide name, business name, what town you have an interest in starting or expanding an existing small shellfish aquaculture operation. Please provide a written narrative of the proposed aquaculture operation.

If you have no aquaculture experience, please complete the Sea Grant Aquaculture course, Foundations of Shellfish Farming

Education opportunity for new shellfish operations

Sea Grant began offering a new training course, Foundations of Shellfish Farming, in 2023. This course provides a critical overview of all aspects involved with shellfish farming and insights from current shellfish harvesters. It is a great way for prospective farmers to learn about the regulatory, financial, and physical aspects of shellfish farming. Regulatory components include permitting; licensing; leasing; and inspecting shellfish dealers, vessels, and records. The course is being hosted again in 2024.

UConn Extension is releasing videos about aquaculture in Connecticut throughout 2024. Follow the youtube series to learn more.

Additional opportunities for new and small shellfish operations

  • The Bureau has expanded Approved waters in eastern Connecticut in recent years and is resuming routine sampling of those water by placing a state vessel in the region to provide additional new opportunities from East Lyme-Stonington.
  • The Branford Initiative provides an opportunity to engage in aquaculture on a small scale for a fee of $25.00 per acre.
  • The Bureau is collaborating on shellfish rehabilitation and enhancement efforts to increase oyster set on Connecticut's natural beds. By cleaning and laying oyster shell, which oyster larvae set on, there will be more oysters to spawn future generations and continue to support the shellfish industry. Learn more about the State's Rehabilitation and Enhancement projects.