Project number: 2000-146
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $229,841.00
Principal Investigator: Phil March
Organisation: OceanWatch Australia Ltd
Project start/end date: 29 Jun 2000 - 27 May 2005


The seafood industry is acutely aware that the community has become increasingly sceptical about assurances from industry and government regarding the state of the environment generally and in particular the environmental performance of industries which interact with the natural environment.

Development of nationally and internationally recognised environmental management standards using the SeaQual Australia process will assist to:
. achieve significant cultural change within the fishing and associated industries;
. focus the industry clearly on continuous improvement of its environmental performance; and
. gain international and domestic recognition that the industry is operating within environmental standards appropriate for the marine environment.

This project is an opportunity for governments and industry to lead the way internationally with the development and implementation of fisheries environmental standards which will engender public confidence in the way fisheries and the marine environment generally are being managed and that fisheries resources are being used sustainably.

To achieve this there is an urgent need to develop an environmental management system framework which provides realistic and achievable options for environmental accreditation/certification for each of the diverse range of fisheries in Australia. Such a framework needs to be also supported by access to tools and expertise to assist each fishery to determine appropriate environmental management systems for that fishery and to help the fishery to commence the journey of continued improvement in environmental performance (See Attachment 1).

This project will build on initiatives such as Greening Australia's Fisheries, SeaNet and SeaQual Australia to ensure that research outcomes relating to environmental performance are adopted by industry within an appropriate context.

Working together, SeaQual Australia, operating as part of Seafood Services Australia, will provide resources and guidance in the development of a "green chooser" and other products (including environmental management standards development) while SeaNet will provide the all important face-to-face assistance with using such products and with ensuring that their development is soundly based on industry needs.

Building on the work being undertaken by SCFA in relation to Fisheries ESD indicators, this project will commence the development of environmental management standards which can be assessed by independent 3rd party auditors.

While this project has been identified under the industry development program of FRDC it is extremely relevant to the other two FRDC programs eg achieving resource sustainability through fisheries management improvement. Continued improvement of the industry's environmental performance will be key outcomes of the project. This project is also targeted to address State priorities identified by the State FRABs. In all cases improving environmental performance is a high priority. The priorities identified by the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture will also be addressed.

This project provides a unique opportunity to ensure that research results and outcomes are adopted and implemented to the satisfaction of all stakeholders. By working closely with the SCFA ESD reference group, the development of ESD indicators (SCFA project) and the tools required to assist industry stakeholders to meet them (this project) can occur in a systematic pragmatic way and assist in achievement of the desired outcomes.


1. To provide a framework and support to enable fisheries in Australia to determine and achieve an appropriate level of environmental accreditation/certification through implementation of an environmental management system relevant to each fishery underpinned by a commitment to continuous improvement.
2. Expand the capacity for SeaNet to provide expertise and assistance to industry groups in improving their management practices and in positioning themselves to implement appropriate environmental management systems and standards for their fisheries.
3. To develop a support tool to guide decisions on appropriate environmental management systems ie "a SeaQual green chooser".
4. To develop nationally and internationally recognised prerequisites for environmental management standards adopted by fisheries throughout Australia.
5. To identify, document and disseminate environmental best practice technologies and techniques to fisheries.

Final report

Author: Phil March
Final Report • 2005-05-11


Environmental management systems in the seafood industry are gradually gaining acceptance as a means by which industry operators can pursue and demonstrate sustainable development; outcomes at the enterprise, regional and/or fishery level, and assist to build community confidence in the way that Australian fisheries resources are managed and accessed.

In response to this, the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) funded Ocean Watch Australia Ltd (Ocean Watch) and SSA Ltd (SSA) to develop a framework and guidance material to assist industry groups and individual enterprises to adopt a systems approach to environmental management. This project was managed by Ocean Watch on behalf of the Australian Seafood Industry Council (ASIC).

The environmental management systems framework and guidance material, including the "Seafood EMS Chooser" and "Seafood EMS Step by Step Guide" were developed and refined through a case study process involving industry associations whose members participate in wild capture fisheries.

The five industry associations that formally participated in the case study process were:

  • Queensland Rock Lobster Industry Association (QLD);
  • Hawkesbury Trawl Association Inc (NSW);
  • East Gippsland Estuarine Fishers Association Inc (Vic);
  • Abalone Industry Association of South Australia (SA); and
  • South West Rocks Beach Haulers Association Inc (NSW).

Other industry groups and individual enterprises contributed in a more informal manner. The case study process was facilitated by SeaNet the environmental extension service for the Australian seafood industry administered by Ocean Watch, whose officers provided face to face assistance to participating industry associations in the form of background research and documentation of management system components. This case study process also produced examples of 'live’ EMS components, including a risk assessment, Environmental Action Plan, policy and code of conduct, providing a foundation upon which the participating industry associations can further develop and implement their management systems.

Keywords: Environmental Management Systems

Final Report • 2005-05-11 • 644.80 KB
Seafood EMS - Recipes for Success.pdf


The purpose of this report is to illustrate the value of EMS as a management tool for seafood businesses to achieve their environmental, economic and social goals and in achieving broader natural resources management goals associated with fishing and aquaculture as well as demonstrating to the community the seafood industry’s environmental credentials.

The report targets existing and potential industry leaders, facilitators and training providers and government officials who have a desire to be involved in the continued development of the seafood industry through EMS.

Final Report • 2005-05-11 • 3.17 MB
Seafood EMS - Self-assessment and Training Manual.pdf


This Seafood EMS Self-assessment and Training Manual, including the Seafood EMS worksheets, its companion, the Seafood EMS Assessor’s Guide, the Seafood EMS Communication Kit and the Seafood EMS CD provide the seafood industry with a national program for EMS training and assessment.

This manual helps you through the development and implementation of an EMS that meets the needs of your seafood business.

Final Report • 2005-05-11 • 1.78 MB
Seafood EMS - Walking the Talk - Seafood EMS Case Studies.pdf


Seafood Services Australia Ltd is proud to bring you, in this publication and others in the series of Seafood EMS Resources, the distilled wisdom of the industry leaders who have pioneered seafood environmental management systems in Australia.

The Seafood EMS Resources result from an intensive R&D program made possible by the Australian Government’s investment of $1.65 million of Natural Heritage Trust funds through industry partnership programs, including the EMS National Pilot and Pathways to Industry EMS programs. The seafood industry invested $3 million in-kind in these latter two programs.

This R&D capitalised on the innovative strategic investments in environmental management systems in the seafood industry by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, with strong support from the Australian seafood industry.

The industry has earned a leading reputation around the world and among other primary industries for these ground-breaking initiatives and its enthusiastic uptake of seafood EMS. By using the Seafood EMS Resources, you’re taking advantage of the best EMS experience currently available.

Final Report • 2005-05-11 • 1.32 MB
Seafood EMS - Assessor's Guide.pdf


Environmental sustainability is a high priority for the Australian seafood industry and the Australian Government. It can only be achieved through the collaborative efforts of everyone involved in the industry. 

Seafood Services EMS initiatives have been made possible by the Fisheries Development Corporation’s investment in the development and extension of the Seafood EMS model in SSA itself. The guide has been developed under the EMS Pathways for the Seafood Industry project1 funded by the Natural Heritage Trust to assist fishers, aquaculturists and seafood post harvest businesses to embrace environmental sustainability through the development and implementation of environmental management systems (EMSs). 

The Seafood EMS program has been especially designed to help seafood industry people to develop and implement an EMS that meets their needs. The training component is covered in The Seafood EMS Self-assessment and Training Manual. The EMS may involve a group of seafood businesses with common interests, or it may involve only one business. Participants in the program may undertake it independently or they may work with a facilitator. Whatever the pathway, participants will gain new skills and knowledge and as this learning is shared with colleagues and workplace members it will spread throughout the seafood industry. The Seafood EMS Assessor’s Guide provides a process by which participant EMS skills and knowledge can be Recognised against national industry EMS competency standards.

The value in having knowledge and skills recognised against an external standard is appealing to more and more people in industry. With recognition comes personal satisfaction and for some, career opportunities. For the workplace it promotes a learning culture which in turn fosters further learning and sharing of knowledge. Recognition can be useful for third party audits and for meeting market protocols. For the industry, it increases the capacity for growth through expansion, improvement and marketing opportunities, and helps achieve resource security for future generations.

Final Report • 2005-05-11 • 10.95 MB
Seafood EMS - Communication Kit.pdf


Have you ever wished the seafood industry had a better reputation? This Seafood Communication EMS Kit can help us achieve just that.

Designed to provide you with the ‘who, what, when, where, why and how’ of communication, this guide uses the eight developmental steps for Seafood Environmental Management Systems (EMS) from the Seafood EMS Chooser to provide a framework for communication activities.

The kit is flexible so that you can decide what type of communication is best suited to your group at different stages of the EMS process.

Different groups will have people with varying levels of skill and experience in relation to event organisation, working with the media and communication in general. This means you need to assess the experience your group has with communication as soon as you start the process. Based on this assessment, you may decide to undergo some basic training (for example - learning how to work with the media).

Final Report • 2005-05-11 • 812.56 KB
The Seafood EMS Chooser.pdf


Our industry’s future, and access to the natural resources used by fisheries and aquaculture, will depend increasingly on our capacity to demonstrate that we are utilising these resources in a sustainable, responsible way.

More and more seafood industry businesses and organisations are setting up environmental management systems (EMSs) to improve — and demonstrate — good environmental performance. In the process, they are increasing their profits and improving their relations with the community.

An EMS can help you to gain access to the latest and best knowledge, to be innovative, and to reap the benefits of adopting the best and most efficient industry practices. Fisheries and aquaculture enterprises that want to achieve greater self-management can also use their EMS to demonstrate a standard of achievement that meets the needs of regulators within a self-managed system.

The Seafood EMS Chooser is the first step in deciding on what should be in your EMS. It provides you with an overview of what’s involved, without going into too much detail. When you have the big picture, it’s time to move on to the Seafood EMS Resources —manuals, a CD-ROM and a website — which will take you through step-by-step.

Your EMS won’t be based on a “one size fits all” model — the Seafood EMS Chooser outlines the various choices you will make to meet your goals and tailor your EMS to your unique, day-to-day business activities. Similarly, your journey along the EMS path will be far from lonely — people who have already implemented EMSs are keen to pass on their experience, and industry trainers can help you to quickly acquire EMS skills and access government training assistance.

Final Report • 2005-05-11 • 2.25 MB
Seafood EMS - Worksheets.pdf


These worksheets have been prepared to assist with the creation of an EMS.
Final Report • 2005-05-11 • 595.78 KB
Seafood EMS - Engagement of Seafood Stakeholders.pdf


The following report outlines the results of a study undertaken by Rural Solutions SA and Corvel Marketing and Management to identify the key requirements for engaging seafood stakeholders in environmental management systems for the seafood industry.

Surveys, interviews, literature reviews and focus group activities were undertaken to gauge the key factors for engagement. This guided a recommended process for ensuring successful engagement with identified tools that can be considered in future engagement processes. It is important to note here that the project team had difficulty in attaining responses from various seafood stakeholders and what is presented and used in the production of this report and the associated recommendations is taken to be representative of the seafood industry and its associated stakeholder groups.

Related research


SeSAFE – Delivering Industry Safety through Electronic Learning

1. INFORM, via an independent review, the design and application of user-pay funding models in Australian primary industries, the potential for a similar model to be introduced by SeSAFE in the fishing and aquaculture industry, and steps recommended to realise this outcome.
Smart Fishing Consulting