A key component of the Caring For Our Country initiative is to help businesses create a culture of sustainable farming practices. One of the ways to achieve this is through improving management practices. ACWA is using the funding to revise or develop Environmental Codes of Practice (ECOP) for the seven major aquaculture sectors in WA. The seven ECOP’s are voluntary so there will be no requirement on any licence holder to abide by them. However, ACWA knows the ECOP’s will assist aquaculture businesses in WA to develop a high standard of environmental awareness as well as complying with WA Department of Fisheries (DoF) licensing requirements (the lead agency for aquaculture in WA).

The ECOP’s include:

Benefits of ECOPs

The ECOPs have many benefits to industry members and also have relevance to aquaculture in other states or countries by providing benchmarks on environmental performance which other aquaculturists can strive to improve on. The ECOP’s take into account the scale of operation of the business with the level of record keeping and other paperwork commensurate with the operation. The idea is to use this as a tool for improvement and managing compliance, rather than to create more ‘red-tape’. Importantly the ECOP’s and the self-assessment tools developed by ACWA are a valuable tool for the business owner to take a step back and look at their business with new eyes and perhaps find new ways of doing things that improve efficiency or reduce operating costs. The tool can also be used for independent third party auditing if that pathway is preferred.

There is a focus on continual improvement so that any non-conformances identified during the assessment or audits are fixed through a documented corrective action process – it is about identifying and fixing problems, and then using this to prevent further problems before they arise. This continual improvement process can assist by standardising management practices and can be used as a training tool for all staff. More importantly it can be used as a communication and marketing tool that can attest to the environmental integrity of a farm.