In 2009 the AAQ (Aquaculture Association of Queensland Inc.) began the process of accrediting professional commercial hatcheries under the Commercial Hatchery Code of Best Practice. The code was developed in consultation with fisheries authorities in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. The Queensland Government provided funding to employ an independent auditor to access hatcheries compliance to the code of practice. The code focuses on desired outcomes. Hatcheries must be able to demonstrate their ability to meet these outcomes. Those outcomes are:
1. Ecologically Sustainable Development
Comply with the AAQ Freshwater Finfish Environmental Code of Best Practice
- Fish over 250 mm in total length sold for stocking, the hatchery can demonstrate that an appropriate food safety plan is in place
2. Maximize Genetic Variation for Stocking of Queensland Waters
- Broodstock Records
- Spawning Records demonstrating intent/purpose
- Sale/stocking records
3. Maximize the Health of Broodstock and their Progeny
- Prepare, implement and demonstrate a Fish Health Management Plan
4. Approved Chemicals and Authorizations
- Records of all treatments used on fingerlings for all sales.
- Records of all chemicals on site and their current veterinary surgeon authorisations if required
5. No Movement of Non Target Species
- Demonstrate proven hatchery management strategies used to eliminate all insect, plant and non-target fish species from fingerling consignments
6. Stocking of Appropriate Species
- Provide advice to purchaser on appropriate fish to stock
- Provide copy of DPI Stocking Brochure
- Sale records of what, to who, where, and when.
7. Reliable Larvae & Fingerling Counts
- Volumetrically/weight for large orders
- Stress reduction methods
- One count at hatchery, preferred option
Hatcheries accredited under this code are able to participate in the Fish Health Certification Program. (FHCP).
By regularly submitting samples to the Queensland Government Biosecurity Sciences Laboratory for health testing, hatcheries are able to demonstrate a fish health history. These tests are comprehensive. They include gross, and histology examination, (histopathology) of each sample submitted. This is where the sample, (Usually about 30 fish from each batch or pond.) is sliced into ultra thin, transparent sections which are then examined under a microscope by a highly qualified Queensland Government fish pathologist.
These tests have been a requirement for batches of fish sent to aquaculture facilities outside Queensland. Under the scheme, samples must be sent on a regular basis regardless of where the fish were to be sold. This is a more intensive, structured, Fish Health Certification Program, (FHCP) of testing which would enhance a hatcheries ability to provide quality fish to its customers. The AAQ has always considered fish health to be a high priority.