Skip to main content

Iowa Import Regulations

Last updated: February 9th, 2021

! Important Notice !

Aquaculturists transporting or selling aquatic animals are responsible for following current regulations required by each state in which the activity occurs (selling or transporting) and are advised to contact state regulatory agencies responsible for permitting these activities.

State Aquaculture Regulatory Authorities  

Iowa Department of Natural Resources:

Alan Johnson
Iowa Department of Natural Resources
Rathbun Fish Culture Research Facility
15053 Hatchery Place Moravia, IA 52521

State Fish Health Authorities / Laboratories - none

Aquaculture Industry Contacts

Iowa State University Extension

Dr. Joseph Morris
Fisheries Extension Program Specialist
Natural Resource Ecology and Management
111 Science Hall II
Ames, IA 50011-3221
515-294-2995 fax

ISU Fisheries and Aquaculture Extension

Stephen Grausgruber
Fisheries Extension
Natural Resource Ecology and Management
012 Science Hall II
Ames, IA 50011-3221

Iowa Department of Natural Resources Oversight

Summary of IA fish import requirements:

Iowa DNR has a website describing many of the State’s requirements for aquaculture and baitfish industries.  Applications for fish importation permits, aquaculture unit license and wholesale bait dealer’s license can be downloaded at this site as well. See: Commercial Fishing, Turtle, Bait Dealer & Aquaculture.

Nearly all regulatory authority for aquaculture and baitfish is promulgated by IDNR through Iowa Administrative Code 571 ch 89

Requirements for importation of live aquatic animals into the state and IA approved species list are found in IA Admin. Rules 571-89.1(481A) Rules 571-89.1(481A)

In summary, an importation permit is required for importing live salmonids, ictalurids (catfish and bullheads) and any live aquatic animals not listed on the IA Approved Aquaculture Species list. 

In addition, anyone wishing to import for sale live aquatic animals into IA (resident or non-resident) must also obtain either an aquaculture unit or baitfish license as it applies.
Fish Importation Licenses
Aquaculture Unit Licenses

Health certification requirements are described below.

Live fish imports/ fish health requirements

571—89.2(481A) Importation permit. An importation permit is required to receive, propagate or sell in the state any aquaculture species not listed in subrule 89.1(1). In addition, aquaculture units shall not import live fish, viable eggs, or semen of any species of the salmonid family (trout, salmon or char) and ictalurid family (catfishes and bullheads), unless the owner or operator possesses a fish importation permit.

Applications for fish importation permits are available at IDNR’s website. See: Commercial Fishing, Turtle, Bait Dealer & Aquaculture.

571—89.3(481A) Disease-free certification (excerpt). Importation permits will not be issued for live fish, viable eggs, or semen of any species of the salmonid family (trout, salmon or char) unless the owner or operator of an aquaculture unit provides a statement certifying the fish, eggs or semen to be free of the following diseases:

   Viral Hemmorhagic Septicemia (VHS)

   Infectious Pancreatic Necrosis (IPN)

   Whirling Disease (Myxosoma cerebralis)

   Infectious Hematopoietic Necrosis (IHN)

   Ceratomyxosis (Ceratomyxa shasta)

   Bacterial Kidney Disease (R. salmoninarium)

   Proliferative Kidney Disease (PKD)

   Enteric Redmouth (Yersinia ruckeri)

   Vibriosis (vibrio sp.)

89.3(2) Reportable diseases. Reportable diseases are Enteric Septicemia of Catfish (Edwardsiella ictaluri) (ESC), Channel Catfish Virus Disease (CCVD) and Furunculosis (Aeromonas salmonicida). Disease certification statements are required for the diseases prior to importation of any live fish, viable eggs, or semen of any species of the Ictalurid (catfishes and bullheads) and Salmonid (trout, salmon and char) families. Importation permits will be considered on a case-by-case basis for fish with reportable diseases.

89.3(3) Certified pathologists for inspection (excerpt). All disease certification statements must be issued by approved certified pathologists. A list of approved certified pathologists will be made available to the owner or operator of the aquaculture unit requesting a fish importation permit.

Aquaculture facility license

481A.141  Aquaculture--license required (excerpt).

1.  A person shall not engage in the business of aquaculture until that person has applied for and has been issued an aquaculture unit license from the department. The application period extends from January 1, or the date of the application, through December 31. (fee)

481A.142  Licensed aquaculture units--activities allowed (excerpts).  A holder of an aquaculture unit license may:

1.  Possess, propagate, buy, sell, deal in, and transport the aquatic organisms produced from breeding stock legally acquired, including minnows.

5.  Sell bait, including minnows, frogs, and clams, propagated or raised within the licensed unit without having to obtain a bait dealer's license. However, aquaculture units wishing to take bait from areas other than their licensed units must also obtain a bait dealer's license.

Each licensed aquaculture unit shall prepare an annual report of all fish bought, sold, and shipped. Reports shall be filed on or before December 31 of each year.

Bait dealer licenses

A licensed bait dealer is a person that sells minnows, frogs, crayfish, salamanders, and mussels for fish bait.  Licensed bait dealers include resident wholesale dealers and non-resident retail and wholesale dealers.  This is an annual license with fee.  Per above, persons holding an aquaculture unit license do not require a bait dealer’s license to sell live bait if the bait was propagated and/or raised at the aquaculture unit.

For additional information see the IDNR website at: Commercial Fishing, Turtle, Bait Dealer & Aquaculture.