Importing fishery products or bivalve molluscs
There are strict rules for the commercial import from outside the European Union (EU) of fishery products, bivalve molluscs and products that contain them.
EU legislation lays down conditions for the import of fishery products and bivalve molluscs.
Each consignment that you import must:
- come from an approved non-EU country and be accompanied by appropriate signed health certification
- come from EU-approved fishery product establishment or premises or approved bivalve mollusc production areas
- enter the EU through an officially designated Border Inspection Post (BIP) where veterinary/hygiene checks are carried out by an Official Fish Inspector. All consignments must be pre-notified to the BIP prior to arrival.
Public Health conditions for the production and placing on the market of fishery products and bivalve molluscs are laid down in Council Regulation 852/2004 on the hygiene of foodstuffs and Council Regulation 853/2004 laying down specific hygiene rules for food of animal origin.
Some approved non-EU countries are only allowed to export either fishery products or bivalve molluscs. It is therefore important to know under which category your product falls.
Within the European Union, food which has been placed on the market is regarded as being in free circulation, which means that for fishery products and bivalve molluscs they must be derived from an approved establishment and comply with the relevant hygiene rules. These rules for the production and placing on the market, are laid down in Council Regulation 852/2004 on the hygiene of foodstuffs and Council Regulation 853/2004 laying down specific hygiene rules for food of animal origin.
For fishery products, Iceland is regarded as a Member State and as such consignments can enter the EU without the need to be presented at a Border Inspection Post (BIP) or be subjected to veterinary checks.
Under Regulation 853/2004, it is a requirement that consignments of fishery products and bivalve molluscs display an identification mark in accordance with Annex II, which applies to most products of animal origin. The identification marking for consignments of fishery products and bivalve molluscs from other EU Member States must consist of the State abbreviation and the establishment approval number set in an oval mark. It should also include the abbreviation CE, EB, EC, EF, EG, EK, EO, EY, ES, EÜ, EK or WE (see Annex I of Regulation (EC) No 1020/2008).
To confirm that the EU establishment supplying you is fully approved for the export of fishery products or bivalve molluscs, see the European Commission website.
Health certification for these products is not required and under the conditions of free circulation the products do not need to enter through a Border Inspection Post (BIP). However, under food law, any product being placed on the market must be fit for consumption and it is therefore the responsibility of food business operators in the UK to ensure that products from other Member States do not pose a health risk to the general public. It is therefore likely that the destination food business operator (the UK-based food premises), using its own discretion, will carry out a system of own checks under a predefined HACCP (food safety management) plan to ensure that the hygiene standards are being met.
In Regulation 853/2004 fishery products are defined as:
- all seawater or freshwater animals (except for live bivalve molluscs, live echinoderms, live tunicates and live marine gastropods, and all mammals, reptiles and frogs) whether wild or farmed and including all edible forms, parts and products of such animals.
Under this definition a fishery product would include crustaceans (such as prawns, lobsters, crayfish, crabs and shrimps), all cephalopods (such as octopus, squid and cuttlefish) and aquaculture products (such as farmed salmon, trout, prawns or shrimps), but not mammals such as whales.
Fishery products that have been processed, undergone a chemical or physical process (such as heating, smoking, salting, dehydration or marinating), been cooked, tinned or frozen, or made from a fishery product (such as a crab stick) must meet equivalent EU legislated hygiene standards. These standards cover handling, processing, storing and transporting fishery products.
Fish oils for human consumption fall within the scope of the fishery products definition and are subject to the aforementioned conditions. For the status of fish oils for human consumption see the Fishery Information Note issued on 27 November 2008 (FIN 20/2008) at the link below.
In Regulation 853/2004 bivalve molluscs are defined as:
- filter feeding lamellibranch molluscs
However, in addition to bivalve molluscs the regulations apply the same conditions to tunicates, echinoderms and marine gastropods, setting criteria for production areas, harvesting, transportation, relaying and purification. If your product(s) contains any of these then you should check that the exporting country is authorised.
The following list indicates some of the species these categories cover:
- Bivalve molluscs include oysters, mussels, clams, cockles and scallops
- Tunicates include sea squirts
- Echinoderms include sea urchins and sea cucumbers
- Gastropods include whelks, winkles and abalone
Since these species are either filter feeders or feed exclusively on filter feeders they are susceptible to picking up and accumulating toxins or bacteriological contaminants from their environment. If these products are contaminated and eaten there could be a risk to human health. Therefore these species can only be commercially harvested from approved production areas, which are monitored to ensure they meet the toxin and microbiological criteria.
Approved non-EU countries are those that have been issued with specific conditions for importing fishery products or bivalve molluscs into the EU following a visit by the EU Commission to establish whether standards of hygiene are equivalent to those required within the EU. The standards reviewed by EU inspectors cover harvesting, handling, treatment, packaging, transport and storage of consignments intended for human consumption.
For all non-EU countries that have met equivalent EU hygiene standards, the EU Commission publishes a list of that country’s approved establishments or bivalve mollusc production areas.
The list of approved non-EU countries and approved establishments and production areas from which the import of fishery products and live bivalve molluscs is authorised can be found on the European Commission website at the link below.
Imports of scallops from the United States
From 1 July 2010 imports of live, frozen or processed bivalve molluscs, echinoderms, tunicates and marine gastropods for human consumption from the United States are no longer permitted. However food business operators may continue to import the adductor muscle from pectinidae (scallops) of non-aquaculture origin.
Step-by-step guide to importing from approved non-EU countries
For more information about each approved non-EU country and Commission requirements for exporting fishery products or bivalve molluscs to the EU, the model health certificate needed and any further import restrictions, see further guidance (pdf document).
All imports arriving from countries outside the EU are subject to veterinary checks: documentary, identity and physical checks at the BIP. Prior notification of an intended arrival is required. A charge will be made for all mandatory random checks required by EU legislation, the cost of which is borne by the importer. Failure to comply with regulations may result in consignments being returned to the non-EU country or being destroyed by incineration at the cost of the importer.
For information about veterinary checks, prior notification of BIPs, charges and failed consignments see the Controls at point of entry into the UK section.
A composite product is a foodstuff that contains both processed animal products and products of plant origin and where the processing of the primary product is essential to the production of the final foodstuff.
Information for importing composite products containing fish or fishery products, or bivalve molluscs can be found at the link below.
In addition,see Fishery Information Note FIN/10/2007 issued to industry stakeholders on 22 October 2007.
Food supplements (which are packaged for the final consumer) containing glucosamine, chondroitin, or chitosan, do not need to be imported through a Border Inspection Post and are not subject to veterinary checks.
New EC Regulation to prevent, deter and eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing
From 1 January 2010 imports of fish and fishery products from countries outside the European Community will be subject to new rules on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing. Imports will need to be accompanied by a validated certificate, which includes details of how and when the fish was caught, and assuring that the fishing activity was carried out legally. For further information please see the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) page the new rules on the DEFRA website.
Occasionally certain fishery products or bivalve molluscs and their import conditions from non-EU countries require special attention to ensure that food safety standards are maintained and public health is protected.
The Standing Committee of the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH), which consists of representatives of EU Members States and is chaired by the EU Commission, meets monthly to consider any situations in non-EU countries where their exports may compromise the public health of Member States.
Where risks to public health are identified, safety measures are agreed by SCoFCAH. Commensurate with the committee's decision, the Commission issues EU-wide measures, which may include possible import restrictions or potential changes to import conditions for fishery products from regions outside the EU.
In line with this the Food Standards Agency is committed to keeping industry and other interest parties informed when food safety measures or legislative conditions change. Notifications issued since 10 October 2006 can be found at the links below.
Fishery Information Notes (FINs) issued
|Reference||Subject||Date of issue|
|FIN/01/2006||Restrictions on Brazilian imports of fishery products||10/10/06|
|FIN/02/2006||Restrictions on Indonesian imports of fishery products||10/10/06|
|FIN/03/2006||Changes to application of EU hygiene legislation and fish oils||10/10/06|
|FIN/04/2006||Restrictions on Brazilian imports of fishery products||20/11/06|
|FIN/05/2006||Amendments to hygiene legislation affecting fishery products, bivalve molluscs and status of fish oils||14/12/06|
|FIN/01/2007||Restrictions on imports of fishery products from Guinea||30/01/07|
|FIN/02/2007||Restrictions on imports of fishery products from Guinea||05/02/07|
|FIN/03/2007||Delisting of approved establishments in Pakistan and Suriname and update on imports of fishery products from Indonesia||26/02/07|
|FIN/04/2007||Transitional arrangements: Health certification for import of fishery products and live bivalve molluscs||12/04/07|
|FIN/05/2007||Health certification for imports of fishery products and live bivalve molluscs and other issues||10/05/07|
|FIN/06/2007||Identification marking of non-EU country imports of fishery products||10/05/07|
|FIN/07/2007||Q and A on recent legislative changes affecting imports of fishery products and live bivalve molluscs into the UK after 1 May 2007||25/05/07|
|FIN/08/2007||Fishery products from Brazil under Commission Decision 2006/698/EC as amended||10/07/07|
|FIN/09/2007||The status of bulk imports of raw fish oils||23/07/07|
|FIN/10/2007||Commission decision 2007/275/EC - Public Health Controls for composite products containing fishery products from non-EU countries||22/10/07|
|FIN/11/2007||Commission Regulation (EC) No 1246/2007 - Extension of the transitional period for importing fish oil from non-EU countries||30/10/07|
|FIN/12/2007||Fish oil hygiene requirements and imports from third countries||17/12/07|
|FIN/01/2008||Potential EC Commission legislation regarding imported fishery products from Gabon, Uruguay, Fiji and all products of animal origin from China||14/02/08|
|FIN/02/2008||European Commission proposal to amend import rules for fish oil||18/02/08|
|FIN/03/2008||Update on European Commission proposal to amend import rules for fish oil||28/02/08|
|FIN/04/2008||Trade samples of fishery products for the European seafood exposition||28/03/08|
|FIN/05/2008||Further update on European Commission proposal to amend hygiene rules for fish oil||17/04/08|
|FIN/06/2008||Further update on the European Commission's proposals to amend the hygiene rules for fish oil||09/05/08|
|FIN/07/2008||Delisting of Fiji for imports of fishery products||23/05/08|
|FIN/08/2008||Fishery products from Uruguay, and potential EU Commission Legislation for fishery products from Indonesia and Malaysia||10/06/08|
|FIN/09/2008||Suspension of imports of fishery products from Malaysia||19/06/08|
|FIN/10/2008||Imports of fishery products from Mozambique||24/06/08|
|FIN/11/2008||Imports of fishery products from Eritrea||24/06/08|
|FIN/12/2008||Products of animal origin from China - amendment to Commission Decision 2002/994/EC regarding testing of aquaculture fishery products for residues of Malachite Green and Crystal Violet||27/06/08|
|FIN/13/2008||Immediate suspension of all fishery products from Malaysia||30/06/08|
|FIN/14/2008||Special conditions imposed on fishery products imported from Gabon and intended for human consumption||02/07/08|
|FIN/15/2008||Emergency measures imposed on crustaceans imported from Bangladesh for human consumption||01/08/08|
|FIN/16/2008||Special conditions imposed on fishery products imported from Indonesia for human consumption||15/08/08|
|FIN/17/2008||Suspension of imports of bivalve molluscs from Peru||09/10/08|
|FIN/18/2008||Fish oil for human consumption from non-EU countries||28/10/08|
|FIN/19/2008||Suspension of imports of certain bivalve molluscs from Peru||20/11/08|
|FIN/20/2008||Fish oil for human consumption from non-EU countries||27/11/08|
|FIN/21/2008||Certification requirements for fishery products etc||22/12/08|
|FIN/01/2009||Fishery products from Israel||27/01/09|
|FIN/02/2009||Fishery products from Cameroon||23/02/09|
|FIN/03/2009||Extension of suspension of imports of certain bivalve molluscs from Peru||30/03/09|
|FIN/04/2009||Possible emergency measures on imports of crustaceans from India||13/05/09|
|FIN/05/2009||Voluntary suspension of exports of shrimps from Bangladesh||08/06/09|
|FIN/06/2009||Health certification requirements under Regulation (EC) No 1250/2008||17/06/09|
|FIN/07/2009||Imports of aquaculture products from non EU countries||25/09/09|
|FIN/08/2009||Commission Decision 2009/727/EC - Emergency measures applicable to crustaceans of aquaculture origin from India for human consumption or animal feed||5/10/09|
|FIN/09/2009||Importation of fishery products and bivalve molluscs, echinoderms, tunicates and marine gastropods from certain non-EU countries ("listII" countries)||9/10/09|
|FIN/10/2009||Imports of bivalve molluscs of aquaculture origin from non EU countries||15/10/09|
|FIN/11/2009||Further extension of suspension of imports of certain bivalve molluscs from Peru||23/10/09|
|FIN/12/2009||Importation of fishery products and bivalve molluscs, echinoderms, tunicates and marine gastropods from certain non-EU countries (“List II” Countries)||27/10/09|
|FIN/13/2009||Importation of fishery products and bivalve molluscs, echinoderms, tunicates and marine gastropods from certain non-EU countries (“List II” Countries)||13/11/09|
|FIN/14/2009||Extension of suspension of imports of bivalve molluscs from Peru||15/12/09|
|FIN/15/2009||Importation of fishery products and bivalve molluscs, echinoderms, tunicates and marine gastropods from certain non-EU countries (“List II” Countries)||17/12/09|
|FIN/01/2010||Lifting of voluntary suspension of exports of fishery products (shrimps) of aquaculture origin from Bangladesh||08/02/10|
|FIN/02/2010||Update on import conditions for fishery products from Indonesia||08/02/10|
|FIN/03/2010||Commission Decision 2010/219/EU lifting conditions for non-aquaculture fishery products from Indonesia||21/04/10|
|FIN/04/2010||Commission Decision 2010/220/EU imposing conditions on farmed fishery products from Indonesia||21/04/10|
|FIN/05/2010||Commission Decision 2010/382/EU imposing emergency measures on aquaculture products from India||12/07/10|
|FIN/06/2010||Commission Decision 2010/387/EU emergency measures on crustaceans from Bangladesh||12/07/10|
|FIN/007/2010||Import of fishery products from third countries unloaded from EU fishing vessels||03/09/10|
|FIN/008/2010||Update on import conditions for fishery products from Serbia||12/10/10|
|FIN/009/2010||Update on import conditions for bivalve molluscs echinoderms tunicates and marine gastropods from Chile||02/12/10|
|FIN/010/2010||Further extension to the suspension of certain bivalve molluscs for human consumption from Peru||21/12/10|
|FIN/001/2011||Proposal to amend the list of approved countries for fishery products to include Fiji||10/02/11|
|FIN/002/2011||Inclusion of Fiji on the list of EU-approved countries for fishery products||02/03/11|
|FIN/003/2011||Special conditions governing the import of feed and food originating in or consigned from Japan||25/03/11|
|FIN/004/2011||Special conditions governing the import of feed and food originating in or consigned from Japan||12/04/11|
|FIN/005/2011||Special conditions governing testing of products originating in or consigned from Japan||21/04/11|
|FIN/006/2011||Special conditions governing testing of products originating in or consigned from Japan||24/04/11|
|FIN/007/2011||Special conditions governing testing of products originating in or consigned from Japan||11/07/11|
|FIN/008/2011||Food from Greenland – Council Decision 2011/408/EU||21/07/11|
|FIN/009/2011||Freezer vessel captain's declarations||25/08/11|
|FIN/010/2011||Special conditions governing testing of products originating in or consigned from Japan||29/09/11|
|FIN/011/2011||Repealing regulation (EC) no 601/2008 on protective measures applying to certain fishery products imported from Gabon||08/11/11|
|FIN/012/2011||Emergency measures applicable to crustaceans imported from Bangladesh||18/11/11|
|FIN/013/2011||Further extension to the suspension of certain bivalve molluscs for human consumption from Peru||22/11/11|
If you require any further information, please contact:
Imported Food Helpline
tel: 020 7276 8018