Clams are primarily grown in estuarine or inshore coastal waters on submerged lands leased from the State of Florida. The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) Division of Aquaculture administers the shellfish aquaculture lease program. Leases are 10-year term and renewable with an initial application and annual rental fees. Currently, shellfish aquaculture leases are located in 11 coastal counties. In most counties, individual leases are grouped into Aquaculture Use Areas (also known as high-density lease areas). The DACS Division of Aquaculture has designated 20 special lease areas in nine coastal counties, including Brevard, Charlotte, Collier, Dixie, Franklin, Indian River, Lee, Levy, and Volusia. Leases can be transferred or sub-leased upon approval of the agency. In addition, leaseholders may authorize individuals to use, or “share crop”, their leases. Individuals may also nominate potential lease sites.
The Florida’s Aquaculture Lease Program provides detailed information on the steps involved in identifying a site, as well as the leasing process, which includes site inspection, resource survey, agency review, public notification, and authorization by the Governor and Cabinet. Once the lease is approved, the new leaseholder is responsible for having the site surveyed to meet the state’s minimum technical standards. Leaseholders must also, within ninety days from execution of the lease, properly install and maintain all lease markers.
An individual may apply for an aquaculture lease by completing a lease application form (fillable pdf) and submitting an application fee. The applicant must describe the proposed culture activities and develop a business plan. Minimum planting requirements must also be identified in the lease application. Before applying, it is recommended that you first contact agency representatives in the DACS Division of Aquaculture to discuss your interest.