Caring for our Country Grant

In 2011, the ACWA was successful in sourcing funding from the Australian Government’s 'Caring For Our Country' (CFOC) initiative which funds projects across the country to improve biodiversity and sustainable farm practices. The funding aimed at improving aquaculture environmental management practices in Western Australia through developing capacity of industry through training and expanding and developing environmental tools that could be used to manage and improve performance of companies. While aimed at environmental performance, the principles of continual improvement and auditing against a standard can be applied across most businesses to boost productivity and profitability.

Independent or third-party certification is becoming an essential requirement of many market outlets, such AS Coles, Woolworths and Costco, all of which have policies for buying only sustainable seafood.  The costs of the certification can be high, however there are many benefits to gaining certification and foremost is the establishment and maintenance of a continuous improvement system in your business.

There are currently seven  Environmental Codes of Practice (ECOP) relevant to Western Australia written jointly by the WA Department of Fisheries and ACWA. They are as follows:

  • Land-based finfish aquaculture.
  • Marine-based finfish aquaculture.
  • Mussel aquaculture.
  • Abalone aquaculture.
  • Pearl aquaculture.
  • Prawn aquaculture.
  • Marron Aquaculture.

These ECOPs will play an important role in the development of a WA based certification scheme. The overall objective of this ACWA CFOC grant is to prepare our industry for third party internationally accredited environmental certification.

The steps to achieve this include:

  • Ensure that the WA aquaculture ECOP’s listed above are up to date and relevant to the WA industry.
  • Develop audit tools to guide and assist aquaculture farmers to undertake internal audits.
  • Train WA industry personnel in the process of undertaking internal audits against their sector’s ECOP.
  • Develop audit tools to plot requirements for third party auditing.
  • Provide training to aquaculture industry members in preparing for, and undertaking third party audits against their industry sectors ECOP.
  • Develop a WA-based process to manage the State-based audit process, called the ACWA “First Steps” Certification Program.
  • Undertake internal and third party audits for at least one aquaculture company from each of the six industry sectors currently operating - land based finfish, marine-based finfish, abalone, mussels, marron, pearl oysters to determine weaknesses in their respective ECOPs. Use this information to update the relevant sector’s ECOP.
  • Plot WA ECOP requirements against internationally recognised environmental certification schemes such as Global GAP and BAP to understand the gaps between WA third party audit requirements and those of international third party audits.
  • Engage aquaculture industry companies across Australia by placing all of the documentation required for internal, third party and international auditing on the ACWA website and publicise the project through several articles in the trade magazine AustAsia Aquaculture.

Caring for our Country

Project MERI Plan

The projects Monitoring, Evaluation, Reporting and Improvement (MERI) plan is available to ACWA members upon request.