The design of very high resolution (VHR) 3D marine surveys not only depends on the theoretical considerations of seismic imaging, but is also dictated by the field conditions and the available budget. The main geophysical controlling factors include the depth and dip of the target, and horizontal and vertical resolution. Working in shallow water environments and at high frequencies will imply constraints on sampling, array directivity and positioning accuracy. In this paper we describe the main requirements and constraints involved in VHR 3D acquisition. The second part of the paper focuses on the flexible acquisition system “Opus3D” recently developed for shallow water investigations. The system provides improvements in imaging resolution in a relatively simple and cost-effective way. Acquisition and positioning constraints limit the system to nearshore studies. The experience gained from various surveys with this new acquisition system allow us to formulate a number of practical specifications and guidelines for 3D survey design in shallow water.