Fish Stocking Permits


Anyone interested in stocking inland, public fishing waters (public freshwaters) with fish, mollusks or crustaceans must obtain a stocking permit issued by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC).

The purpose of this regulation is to protect native or legally established aquatic species from the potentially damaging effects of unauthorized stockings.


Stocking permit application (PDF- opens new window. If possible, complete application online before printing.)

Fish Stocking Permit FAQs

Why do I need a permit to stock fish in inland, public fishing waters?

Unregulated stockings into public waters can have unintended, negative consequences, which can alter the existing aquatic community permanently. Stocked fish can:

  • feed on eggs, fry or adults of existing fishes;
  • compete with existing fishes for food and habitat;
  • introduce diseases and parasites;
  • interbreed with existing fishes, diluting the native gene pool;
  • degrade habitat and water quality.

Unfortunately, once established, stocked fishes are nearly impossible to eradicate. Strategies to evaluate and manage the unintended impacts of stocked fish are difficult to implement, often ineffective and costly.

Furthermore, the harm caused by introduced fishes is not limited to the waters where they are introduced because these species inevitably move downstream or are transferred to adjacent basins by anglers.


Why does the NCWRC require a stocking permit?

For decades, unauthorized fish stockings have increased dramatically. Improved transport techniques and equipment readily available to the public have made it easier for anglers to “improve” their favorite fishing hole. Because the ecological impacts of stocked fish are rarely reversible, the NCWRC wants to be able to assess on a case-by-case basis the impacts a proposed stocking may have on the established fisheries. By requiring a stocking permit, the NCWRC will be able to evaluate individual stockings for impacts to the state’s aquatic resources and to the people who participate in the many activities related to those resources.


Who is responsible for applying for a stocking permit?

It is the responsibility of any person or group who wishes to stock fish, mollusks or crustaceans into inland, public fishing waters to obtain a permit. If a commercial facility provides the stocked fish, the individual purchasing the fish is responsible for obtaining a permit. A copy of the permit must be in possession of the individual who physically places the fish into inland, public fishing waters.


How do I apply for a stocking permit?

  1. Before applying for a permit, applicants are encouraged to contact the fisheries biologist in their district to discuss the proposed stocking. See the Districts Biologists Map (pdf - opens new window) for contact information.
  2. Complete and sign the Application to Stock Fish in Inland, Public Fishing Waters of North Carolina. (pdf - opens new window)
  3. Submit the signed application to the fisheries biologist in the district in which the body of water you’re interested in stocking is located. See the Districts Biologists Map (pdf - opens new window) for contact information.


Once I apply for a stocking permit, what happens next?

Upon receiving the application, the fisheries biologist in your district, along with the regional and state fisheries personnel, will review the proposed stocking and its potential impacts to the existing fish community, other aquatic organisms, aquatic habitat and ongoing management activities. Once a thorough review of the proposed stocking has been completed, the chief of the Division of Inland Fisheries will send you a written response.


How long will it take the NCWRC to review the permit application?

You should receive a written response within 60 days.


Is there a cost associated with applying for a permit?

There is no fee associated with the permit application review or issuance.


Is a permit required to stock a private pond?

No. By regulation, a private pond is a body of water arising within and lying wholly upon the lands of a single owner or group of joint owners or tenants in common, and from which fish cannot escape, and into which fish of legal size cannot enter from public waters at any time. This does not include any impoundment located on land owned by a public body or governmental entity. A permit is required for waters defined as inland, public fishing waters of North Carolina.


How do I know if I need a stocking permit?

For assistance in determining if a permit is required for a specific body of water, contact the fisheries biologists located in your district. See the Districts Biologist Map (pdf - opens new window) for contact information.