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Aquaculture's sustainable future

Posted on : 18 January 2017

PHOTO: Petuna Group
WORDS: Sue White 

Article first appeared RAS Times November 2016

A new global trend is influencing farming with a general shift towards consumers wanting to trace a product to its source, a movement which is heavily present in the salmon industry.

There, provenance is part of a broader move by the industry towards more sustainable and accountable practices across the board.

“I’ve been in the industry for six years and it’s been a fairly pivotal time in terms of social responsibility and the environment. There have been some big changes. The major change has been [producers] taking ownership, and driving that social licence to operate,” says Dr Belinda Yaxley, Sustainability and Accreditation Officer at Tasmania’s Petuna Group.

For Petuna, this means providing publically available data about exactly what is happening on their farm.

“We want to provide real transparency in terms of things like wildlife mortalities, antibiotic use and unexplained losses, with the intent to reduce to zero - it’s a continuous improvement programme,” she says.

Yaxley says Australia’s salmon industry is making a real, and world class, commitment to communicating its farming practices, so that the public can understand how fish are farmed and treated.

“We’re not seeing it done globally [to this level of detail],” she says.

While sustainable practices are growing ever more important in salmon, Yaxley says two other things are changing her industry: the adherence to standards, and an attitude that welcomes continuous improvement.

“There are two global schemes we’re using – the ‘Best Aquaculture Practices Scheme’ and the ‘Aquaculture Stewardship Council Scheme’. These are standards that cover everything from community engagement, worker relations, environmental conditions such as water quality and seabed health, along with fish health and welfare,” Yaxley says.

While Petuna is taking these on board, Yaxley says these types of programs are being embraced industry-wide.

“These standards are like a continuous improvement program: they’re helping us to improve year in or year out. Whether it’s prawns, barramundi or salmon, everyone’s getting on board. It’s an independent third-party assessment so consumers can know [the company has] been assessed right across the board; that the animal has been produced as sustainably as possible; that it’s been treated responsibility. Plus, there’s traceability,” she says.

Read more about Australian aquaculture industry and its technological advances.

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