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Nothing fishy about biosecurity for aquaculture business

September 6, 2013
Macquarie harbour fish farm

Photo: iStock

In a first for the Australian Farmer of the Year Awards, an aquaculture business has been chosen as a finalist in the Biosecurity Farmer of the Year Award, with Peter and Frances Bender’s Tasmanian salmon and trout farm and processing operation demonstrating that biosecurity is not confined to dry land.

Thanks to their careful and thorough planning, the Benders are one of three finalists in the animal category in this year’s award, with the winner to be announced at the Australian Farmer of the Year Awards ceremony being held on Thursday 12 September in Melbourne.

The award – which comprises separate animal and plant categories – is sponsored by the Farm Biosecurity program, which is a partnership between Animal Health Australia (AHA) and Plant Health Australia (PHA).

Peter and Frances diversified from cattle to salmon farming in 1988. Huon Aquaculture Company Pty Ltd has now evolved into a vertically integrated company, farming, processing and selling Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout products to domestic and international markets and employing more than 400 staff.

Duncan Rowland, AHA Executive Director for Biosecurity Services, said biosecurity plays a central role to the company’s business model, helped with the development of a plan that covers all stages of fish production, from the hatchery to the plate.

“Last year Huon Aquaculture implemented a whole of chain biosecurity plan. The plan was based on a detailed risk assessment across all aspects of the Huon Aquaculture business.

“The plan outlines a number of key procedures and protocols designed to minimise the spread and impact of endemic and exotic diseases. This plan also focusses on key areas such as staff participation, ownership and education of biosecurity measures, procedures for good fish husbandry through all aspects of the fish lifecycle. This includes closely managing both the health and welfare of the fish through water quality management, monitoring, vaccine use and on-going research.

“The purpose of creating a detailed whole of chain plan was born out of the need to protect the company from the effects of devastating diseases such as the infectious salmon anaemia disease which had a major impact on the Chilean salmon industry. The plan was also developed so the company could achieve industry accreditation,” Mr Rowland said.

Peter and Frances’ message to their fellow producers in their application is simple: “Take biosecurity seriously. Pathogens have no respect for spin.”