Substantial resources and funding have been provided into developing EMS and ESD programs and providing facilitators through areas such as the Aquaculture Action Agenda, the Department of Environment and Water (DEWR) funded EMS Pathways projects and FRDC funded projects. Satisfactory extension of the benefits of EMS to aquaculturists, regulators or the community has not occurred due to the lack of socio-economic data to substantially support the claims of sustainability through environmental responsibility. The industry needs to develop appropriate environmental, social and economic indicators and collect appropriate data to address these indicators. To achieve this, industry needs to know what information to collect, how to provide measurable indicators, appropriate storage and evaluation mechanism for the data, extension mechanisms to industry, regulatory agencies and the community and presentation in an appropriate reporting framework.
This project is not focused on extension but on the development of social and economic elements of ESD that will be integrated with the exiting environmentl indicators. It does however have an element in developing a reporting framework that incorporates the data collected on these social and economic elements so that it can be presented to stakeholders to substantiate the industry’s ESD credentials.
This project will be targetd at the regional and industry level and not specifically at the farm level. This will consistent with the exisitng ESD risk assessment framework developed by Fletcher This will require the development of a set of indicators for each industry/region. Whilst some of the ecological elements have been identified and have been the subject of previous research there is limited information on what social and economic elements should be measured. This require further research to see if these gaps can be filled.
This study has tested and refined the indicators and potential data collection questions that may be implemented by individual aquaculture enterprises, and subjected to basic interpretation by the industry, to inform ESD reporting. Some of the economic and social data also has the potential for use, beyond ESD, in regard to identifying industry development and community collaboration opportunities.
Discussions with industry at the final workshop identified both willingness and the potential vehicles with which to undertake annual collection of the data identified here, at the individual business level. This is an important and essential factor in the long term use of the tools and implementation of the framework identified here.
There is a need to remain cognisant of the cost effectiveness of different approaches to data acquisition. Though utilising existing data in the economic domain and to integrate the collection of social indicator data with other benchmarking and regular data collection activities, it is reasonable to aim for ongoing collection of data to inform ESD performance.
The collection and integration of both economic and social indicators appropriate to national collection, but not currently broadly or consistently collected, is essential to future successful implementation of ESD reporting. Negotiations regarding the ways in which to collect data to inform nationally applicable indicators, with agencies such as ABARE or State NRM Government agencies, needs to occur. This is, however, outside the scope of this project. This project has identified recommended indicators and the associated data for the aquaculture industry that needs to be addressed in such negotiations.
Keywords: Sustainability; Aquaculture; Social; Economic; Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD); Indicators.