The Queensland freshwater finfish aquaculture industry through a technical advisory group has formulated this Code of Practice in recognition of the industry’s need to become recognised as an environmentally responsible and sustainable industry and to assist industry members define standards of performance.
The freshwater finfish aquaculture sector covers many different species, production techniques and environments.
It is the intention of this Code of Practice to specifically include both marine and freshwater hatcheries and grow out facilities for all species with the exception of eel farming and cage culture.
The code is reviewed by the Aquaculture Association of Queensland. These reviews are conducted by a panel of stake holders which may include the EPA, DPI&F and other relevant individuals and organisations.
AAQ members who fail to comply may have their membership canceled.
Specifically the document aims to:
- Be relevant to Queensland finfish aquaculturists;
- Be practical
- Provide options for management;
- Be flexible
- Provide a mechanism for environmental self regulation;
- Fall within the legal requirements of Queensland’s Environmental Protection Act 1994, Environmental Protection (Interim) Regulations 1995 and relevant Environmental Protection Policies;
- Fall within the requirements of the Fisheries Act 1994, Fisheries Regulations 1995 and relevant fisheries policies, and;
- Provide new entrants to the industry with clear standards of performance.
It is the objective of this document to provide best practice management techniques to minimise the potential of environmental impacts due to the culture of finfish in Queensland. This will result in consistency of performance and clarity of environmental objectives across the industry.
What is a code of practice?
A Code of Practice provides a self imposed set of rules for the carrying out of a specific activity. It is the responsibility of the proponent of a Code of Practice to define the intended purpose and to specify the particular operational practices to be adopted.
A Code of Practice does not however replace the need for aquaculturists to obtain and comply with all necessary approvals and licenses.
In Queensland a Code of Practice may become a legal document, and may be called up to prescribe appropriate legal practices.
In Queensland, every person has a general environmental duty to take all reasonable and practicable measures to prevent or minimize environmental harm.
Environmental harm is unlawful unless it is authorised under an Environmental Authority, Environmental Protection Policy, an Environmental Management Program, a license, an approval, an Environmental Protection Order or an emergency direction. Additionally it may be a breach of the Fisheries Act to undertake practices which adversely impact on fisheries resources or are specifically regulated within the legislation.
The EPA allows the Minister for the Environment to approve this Code of Practice, which states ways for finfish aquaculturists to achieve compliance with the General Environmental Duty of Care and so be within the law as a way of managing activities that cause or are likely to cause environmental harm. An approved Code of Practice is not a regulation under the EPA, however it does have legal standing.
Under the Environmental Protection Act 1994, an approved Code of Practice has particular value as a defence to a charge of causing unlawful environmental harm.
By following the accepted Code of Practice, finfish aquaculturists will be able to show “due diligence” and meet the legal requirements of the General Environmental Duty of Care.
It must be recognised that under the EPA, no penalties can be directly imposed on a finfish farmer for failing to follow advice in a Code of Practice approved by the Minister. Likewise, no protection can be afforded either.