The inaugural Australasian Aquaculture Awards sponsored by the Global Aquaculture Alliance Best Aquaculture Practices (GAA-BAP) certification program at Australasian Aquaculture 2012 recognized individuals and businesses that apply innovative and sustainable practices that will have lasting impacts on Australasian aquaculture over the next 10 years.
Presented May 2 by BAP Vice President of Development Peter Redmond during the "Articulture" event at the Australasian Aquaculture conference in Melbourne, Australia, the awards rewarded aquaculture excellence in several categories.
Tassal Operations Pty. Ltd. won the Aquaculture Production Award. The largest vertically integrated Atlantic salmon producer in Australia, Tassal provides fish predominantly for the regional market. With sustainability at the core of all operations, it consulted varied stakeholders in preparing its first annual sustainability report -- the first released by an Australian aquaculture company.
Tassal's Environment and Sustainability team is focused on addressing environmental and social issues, and "what we learn we share," its award application said, by being active in the Tasmania Salmon Growers Association. Tassal awarded an AUD 25,000 grant to develop an e-learning program and mentoring opportunities for students interested in aquaculture as a career.
The Fish Oil Replacement in Australian Aquafeed project won the Aquaculture Science Research Award. Project work by Prof. Chris Carter (University of Tasmania), Dr. David Francis (Australian Institute of Marine Science), Dr. Peter Nichols (CSIRO Food Futures Flagship) and Dr. Giovanni Turchini (Deakin University) is helping Australian aquaculturists plan for a more economically and environmentally secure future by reducing dependence on imported fish oil as an ingredient in aquafeed.
Australia's aquafeed industry quickly took up project findings and developed new, cost-effective and more sustainable diets for the Australasian market. Current feeds have minimal fish oil content and utilize nationally produced alternative oils, but still deliver excellent fish performance and products with optimal nutritional and sensory qualities.
Sealite Pty. Ltd. won the Aquaculture Service Provider Award. Sealite, which designs and manufactures marine navigation aids in Somerville, Victoria, Australia, offers the widest range of solar-powered LED lanterns in the marketplace. The company is a technology leader in the development of marine navigation aids. It utilizes state-of-the-art equipment and an in-house approach to production that achieves superior product value and quality.
Fish farmers typically install flashing lights to identify the boundaries of their farms. Sealite's low-cost synchronized light systems clearly illuminate their assets against confusing background lighting and other navigation aids for greater visibility to mariners.
"GAA and BAP are proud to have supported this new awards program," Redmond said. "With their focus on innovation and sustainability, the Australasian Aquaculture Awards contribute to advances across the aquaculture industry. As with the farms and plants that participate in BAP certification, these award winners are working toward the improvements that will be needed to sustainably farm more seafood over the coming years."
Judging for the awards evaluated the qualities that make candidates "excellent," such as major accomplishments and specific projects, unique products or services, links to education and projected impacts on aquaculture.
"This was the inaugural Australasian Aquaculture Awards ceremony, and according to the judges, the competition was extremely competitive," awards organizer Roy Palmer said. "The awards have been called 'The Blue Thumbs,' and it is anticipated that they will become an integral part of the Australasian scene into the future. Highlighting excellence is important in the maturing industry, and we are grateful to GAA-BAP for showing initiative by supporting this activity."