Posted by: TerraSaver | September 15, 2016



Water supply is a very important factor when purchasing a ranch, a farm or a hobby farm. Properties that have ponds or lakes are in big demand.  Usually the pond is seen as providing a water source for agriculture, recreation, aesthetics, wildlife habitat.  Another potential use to consider might be for aquaculture.

Fishing PondAccording to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), which regulates aquaculture, ‘aquaculture is the process of raising and harvesting plants or animals in an aquatic environment’.  Aquaculture does not include species of ornamental marine or freshwater plants and animals not utilized for human consumption or bait purposes that are maintained in closed systems for personal, pet industry or hobby purposes; however, these species continue to be regulated.

However there can be financial and tax benefits to treating a pond or small lake on a property as commercial ‘aquaculture’ and the fish reared as farm production. This can be true even with smaller ponds having one to two surface acres.  This use requires a permit from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.  Some species that do well in ponds are bass, trout, channel catfish and sunfish. Fish stock can be obtained from Sonoma County hatcheries along with food species such as crayfish and minnows and mosquito fish.  Information on aquaculture permits may be obtained at the CDFW link:

Fishing is a popular form of recreation.  While many uses on property require a use permit, harvesting and the sale of farm products usually go with agricultural zoning.  As an example, in operating our own properties we have treated public fishing for fish raised under our aquaculture permits as the harvesting of farm products.  We also found an additional benefit to working with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife over a 25 year period as a great learning experience.  One of the projects we have worked on with CDFW  not related to aquaculture is coho salmon restoration on the property (video link).

frantz-fish_160x146One very important item to research is to make sure the pond on the property, if man made, had a construction permit and a final signoff.  It should also be verified that the pond is in compliance with the State Water Rights Board requirements for water diversion and use.

Let us know if you need additional information.
Chanslor Wildlife, LLC –



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