The Registration of Fish Farming and Shellfish Farming Businesses Order 1985 requires all fish and shellfish farming businesses to submit details for registration within two months of commencing business. The information is required specifically to help control the introduction and spread of disease throughout the aquaculture industry and into wild fish stocks.

Raceways belonging to a salmonid farmThe Fish and Shellfish Business Register is maintained on behalf of Defra and NAWAD by the Fish Health Inspectorate(FHI), based at CEFAS Weymouth.

The FHI administration team provides advice to prospective farmers and processes applications. A Fish Health Inspector will then visit the site prior to registration.

You do not need to register a farm until it is operational. Farmers are not charged for registration of sites.

What is the definition of farming?

Fish Farming is ‘the keeping of live fish with a view to their sale or transfer to other waters’. Only enterprises where the primary purpose is the sale or transfer of fish are regarded as carrying on the business of fish farming.

Registration Procedure

You need to have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed to view these documents.Farmers are required to complete a business registration form FB1 (Adobe PDF file, 28.5K) and a farm site registration form FB 1A (Adobe PDF file, 33.6K) (one form should be completed for each of the sites which make up the fish farming business). A Explanatory Leaflet on Registration of a Fish Farming Business (Adobe PDF file, 104K) is available.

Completed registration forms should be sent to Fish Health Inspectorate, E mail: The Inspectorate will provide additional advice in relation to the registration procedure if required.

On receipt of the completed forms your application will be referred to a Fish Health Inspector, who will contact you, to arrange a mutually agreeable time for a pre-registration visit. This will usually be carried out within twenty working days of your application, subject to your availability.

Fish health inspectionOn arrival at your site they will:

make a visual inspection of your stock and site
talk through the activities carried out on site and your plans for the future,
check the details on your application,
take copies of any Section 30 consents or invoices as evidence of trading,
take some photographs for our files and draw a site plan.
On return to the laboratory the Inspector will submit a visit report including site plan etc, for approval. A member of the FHI administrative team will then write to you within ten working days of the visit confirming that senior Inspectors decision.

If your application is unsuccessful

The FHI will inform you by post stating the reason why your site does not meet the registration criteria. You are free to re-apply once you feel your farming activities meet our criteria. You should continue to operate your site in accordance with the relevant legislation, especially where netting and stocking consents are necessary.

If your application is successful

Processing of fish farm registrationThe FHI will inform you by post and enclose a printout of the entry that has been made on the Fish Health Database for checking. This will include your registration number and details of which holding facilities have been included in the registration. You will also be issued with a book to record all movements of fish to and from the site.

You should notify us of any changes to your farm site or business within one month of this occurring. Changes requiring notification include: Change of business or postal address, Sale of the site, Ceasing farming on a site.

If the only change is to the farm holding facilities, or to the species held, the FHI do not need to be informed until they next inspect the site. If you intend to introduce any non native species then you should apply for a ILFA/WCA licence from Defra or NAWAD.

Maintenance of registered status

Your site will be entered into the FHI’s rolling program of site inspection and sampling. The frequency of these visits and requirements for sampling will be dependent on the species held and the pattern of trade from the site. All farm sites are inspected at least annually but are usually sampled less frequently.

At each inspection an Inspector will:

Check the historic records we hold and gather new information for your site/business.
Inspect your movement record book. The movement record book issued at the time of registration shows what data we legally require and how we would prefer the information recorded. We recommend their use, although equivalent information may be stored in an alternative, easily accessible format e.g. on computer. The records must be readily accessible to our Inspector, ideally on the site to which they relate. The Inspector may need to take a copy and our books have self-carbonating pages for this purpose. The records must be retained for four years, after which they can be destroyed. All movements must be recorded including those involving other sites belonging to your own business. The records should be updated within 24 hours of the movement.
Check your medicine and mortality records. Within the movement books are pages designed for use when recording mortalities on site. These pages should be completed on a regular basis, as appropriate to your site’s size and activities. You are also required to keep and have available for inspection details of all medicines administered on your site(s). There is no record book to assist with this requirement at present. You are required to keep a diary, table or spreadsheet with the following details: what treatment was used, which ponds/tanks were treated, date and dose administered, withdrawal period and batch number of product used.
Make a visual inspection of your site and stock.
You will be advised at the time the inspection visit is booked, whether a sample of fish is required from the farm in addition to the visual inspection of your stocks. If an Inspector observes signs of disease then they will explain their suspicions take a sample for diagnostic testing.

Inspection Reports

Round tanks belonging to a salmonid farmFollowing a site visit the Inspector will write to you within ten working days, as required under the FHI’s ‘Code of Practice and Customer Charter’, confirming any conclusions resulting from discussions during the visit. If the Inspector took a sample they will inform you of the results within five working days of the results becoming available, also as agreed under the Charter.

If you have any problems between visits the FHI Inspectors and administrative team are available to answer your queries.

Confidentiality of Data

It is all held in confidence. There are strict rules governing the release of the information obtained in the course of our duties.We can only release it:

With your consent.
or In the form of summary of information obtained from a number of sites.
For the purpose of criminal proceedings.
To other bodies with responsibilities under national fish health legislation.
Offences and Penalties

It is an offence under the Diseases of Fish Act 1983 not to comply with the registration and record keeping requirements, to provide false information or to compile false movement records.

It is also an offence to obstruct an Inspector in the discharge of his work. The penalty for these offences is a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale (£2500 at July 2000).


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