Now that you’re ready to obtain your permit for farming oysters in Alabama, let’s walk through the steps one-by-one.
Because you’ll be required to obtain a handful of permits and approvals, we recommend reading through the entire application process before getting started so that you’ll know how much time and money you’ll be investing in this endeavor. As you read through the steps, make sure your timeline and budget are accounted for in your Business Plan as well.
If you'd like to familiarize yourself with the steps in advance, take a glance at this printable checklist.
Before you get started, you’ll need to host a visit from a Marine Resources Division (MRD) representative.
It’s not an “interview” in the traditional sense, but the representative will want to make sure your property situation is sound before you move on with obtaining permits and releases. If anything is amiss, this interview will save you plenty of time and hassle down the road.
Note: Proposing a site that exists within a natural oyster reef or a site that will impact any submerge aquatic vegetation is prohibited.
If you own your property, or you’ll be leasing it from the state or another property owner, you’ll need to submit a copy of the deed/lease agreement to the State Lands and Marine Resources Division.
If you don’t own your property and you aren’t leasing your property, you’ll need to contact the Alabama State Lands Division for further instructions.
Competitive bidding process based on appraisal values for land. The Alabama Land Sales and Lease Act applies to state owned land valued over $20,000. Leasing of submerged lands under this provision is subject to a competitive bidding process. Through the services of an appraiser, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources – State Lands Division sets the minimum bid and advertises the parcel’s availability. Applicants may submit sealed bids. The lease will be awarded to the highest bidder. Ala. Code §9-15-70.
You must contact the Alabama Department of Public Health to verify that your proposed site is in waters that are conditionally approved. Is your proposed oyster farming site in waters conditionally approved by the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH)?
Great! You’re ready to proceed to the next step.
You'll need to contact the Alabama Department of Public Health and ask for more specific information.
Once you’ve been approved by the Alabama Department of Public Health, you’ll need to submit a Shellfish Aquaculture Easement Application to the Alabama State Lands Division.Download Application
The next form you’ll need to submit is the Joint Permit Application (Form 1668), which will be submitted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE) and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM). Copies must also be submitted to the State Lands Division and the Alabama Port Authority
Note: During the review of your application, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers district archeologist will determine if your proposed oyster aquaculture site requires a cultural resources survey. If it does, this survey may cost up to $10,000.Download Application
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
P.O. Box 2288 Mobile, AL 36628
Alabama Department of Environmental Management
3664 Dauphin Street, Suite B Mobile, AL 36608
Alabama State Lands Division
31115 Five Rivers Boulevard Spanish Fort, AL 36527
After you have you Joint Permit Application approved and signed, you’ll need to submit a Private Aids to Navigation Permit Application to the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG). This helpful guide may be of assistance as you complete the application.
Note: There won’t be any further action required for this application, but it is very likely that the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Marine Patrol Division will pay you a visit to determine if there are any navigation hazards on your proposed site.Download Application
Once your U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit application has been received, you’ll need to submit an operation plan to the Alabama Department of Public Health.
Note: The Alabama Department of Public Health offers a template for your operation plan that will save you some time and effort.
Similar to a driver’s license or a fishing license, an oyster aquaculture license is a required for a commercial operation.
No matter which harvesting method you choose, you’ll need to obtain your license from the Alabama Marine Resources Division and have it renewed annually. An Oyster Aquaculture License for Alabama is $250.00 a year.Alabama Marine Resources Division
Once you’ve submitted all of your applications and forms, there’ll be a bit of a waiting period. The time it takes all depends on which forms you’re waiting to hear back from. If you haven't already, now is the time to check in with your previously assigned project manager.
In the meantime, now’s the perfect opportunity to make sure your Business Plan is in good shape.
Once you’ve obtained your U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit, your Alabama Department of Public Health permit, and your U.S. Coast Guard Aids to Navigation permit, provide these documents to the Alabama State Lands Division (ASLD) in order to obtain your final easement and notice to proceed.