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Freshwater Mussel Survey / Relocation License to Collect or Possess

What This License Allows

Handling freshwater mussel species to conduct a survey or relocation event that is directly associated with a proposed waterbody disturbance project (e.g. bridge maintenance/construction, dredging, shoreline project, etc.).

What this License Does Not Allow

Research or education/exhibition - please complete a general scientific license application (PDF) for this purpose.

How to Apply

Prior to applying for this License to Collect or Possess (LCP), the project sponsor/designee associated with the disturbance activity must first contact the appropriate DEC Regional Environmental Permits Office to initiate a permit application or pre-application conference. If this does not occur, delays in the processing and issuance of a license may occur.

Step 1 - Meet the Minimum Qualifications

To receive an LCP for conducting freshwater mussel surveys, those applying must meet the following minimum requirements.

  1. Bachelor of Science degree in biology, environmental science, natural resources, or related field.
  2. Experience and proficiency in identifying freshwater mussel species within New York State waters, with specific expertise in the river basin/geographic area being surveyed.
  3. Knowledge of the mussel species biology and ecological requirements.
  4. Sufficient field experience and skills in the execution of standard freshwater mussel survey methods and the safe care and handling of mussel species.

Those seeking approval may send a resume or curriculum vitae detailing related work experiences or research efforts that meet the minimum requirements listed above to the DEC Special Licenses Unit at:

A letter of recommendation or other documentation may be required to demonstrate the applicant has appropriate knowledge and expertise in surveying, handling, and identifying freshwater mussels.

For a list of currently approved surveyors see Previously Licensed Mussel Surveyors (PDF)

Step 2 - Complete the Following

  1. A survey plan or relocation plan must be completed in accordance with the guidelines below.
    • Survey Guidelines (PDF) (April 2021 version) - These guidelines provide details for survey area delineation and appropriate methods for conducting a survey, as well as information on plan development requirements, report submission requirements, and associated deadlines.
    • Relocation Guidelines - Consult with the DEC Regional Environmental Permits Office when developing a mussel relocation plan. Site selection will be based on information gathered during the survey (see Survey Guidelines).
  2. Complete the application form and the designated agent form (if applicable)
    • License Application (PDF) - A new license application must be completed for each individual disturbance project. The application should specify whether it is for a survey only or a relocation only. A survey and relocation event occurring simultaneously is generally not acceptable or approved.
    • Designated Agent Form (PDF) - Use this form to identify individuals who will assist handling mussels during the survey or relocation. Designated agents must work under the direct supervision and guidance of the license holder who must be present on-site when conducting a survey or relocation, unless otherwise reviewed and approved by the Department.

Step 3 - Submit Documents

Submit the survey plan or relocation plan, license application, and designated agent form to the DEC Regional Environmental Permit Office.


Reporting requirements are described in the Survey Guidelines (PDF) along with a checklist of required data and information to report, and reporting deadlines.

Annual Data Sheet

In addition to submitting a survey report in accordance to the details outlined in the Survey Guidelines, the applicant must submit the Digital Data Form no later than December 31 each year. Download the Digital Data Form (excel Spreadsheet).

Contact Information

Contact Contact for:

DEC Special Licenses Unit
625 Broadway, 5th Floor, Albany, NY 12233-4752


Phone: (518) 402-8985

Questions or concerns about qualifying or applying for this license.

Regional Environmental Permit Office Administrators

Questions on survey or relocation plan development.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, New York Field Office

3817 Luker Road, Cortland, NY 13045


Phone: (607) 753-9334

Consultation with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service when there is the potential for federally listed or proposed listed freshwater mussel species within the project's vicinity.

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