Best Management Practices
Best Management Practices (BMPs) are specific farm management and operational practices that address environmental concerns and stress a good-citizen, good-neighbor business strategy while still preserving the ability of the farmer to innovate and devise outcome-oriented approaches to achieve management goals.
Stakeholder-driven Codes of Conduct and BMPs lead to greater industry environmental accountability, reduce multi-user conflicts, improve production efficiency, instill consumer confidence in products, and result in a higher degree of self-regulation.
The East Coast Shellfish Growers Association developed its set of BMPs through a series of stakeholder workshops. Workshop participants discussed and codified the best ways of managing the various types of shellfish farming operations.
Virgin Oyster Company has developed its BMP’s using the guidelines developed by the East Coast Shellfish Growers Association.
Shellfish Culture in the Eastern USA
The concept of a Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries originated with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) suggesting a set of principles that growers should embrace in order to conduct their business responsibly. Most growers follow these basically common sense precepts instinctively as good stewards of the waters where they grow shellfish and as good food producers. The Code of Conduct here takes into consideration particular aspects of the East Coast shellfish production industry.
Shellfish farmers shall make a best effort to:
1. Conduct aquaculture operations in accordance with all applicable regulations.
2. Produce and handle products of the highest quality and ensure product safety.
3. Communicate with neighbors about facets of the farming operation which might affect them.
4. Benefit the local economy by patronizing local businesses, and creating employment opportunities.
5. Manage farming operations to minimize negative environmental impacts.
6. Manage farming operations to ensure the economic and social sustainability of the operation.
7. Take measures to maintain the health of the farmed shellfish.
8. Dispose of used farming gear and other materials responsibly.
9. Consult and collaborate with all stakeholders in ways to improve shellfish culture.
10. Encourage other growers to adopt the shellfish code of conduct and better management practices.