Sanitary surveys

Shellfish production areas are subject to multiple sources of pollution. Under EU regulations, an assessment of the sources of pollution must be undertaken and a sampling plan established for all new shellfish harvesting areas.

Collectively, this is known as a sanitary survey. Each survey includes a systematic desk-based review of all available data, and an in-depth site survey of the harvesting area, to identify potential sources of pollution and points for routine sampling.

For areas covered by a sanitary survey, a Provisional Representative Monitoring Point (PRMP) desk study assessment can be undertaken to determine a sampling plan and PRMP(s) in liaison with the Local Authority (LA).

EC Regulation 854/2004, Annex II (Chapter II paragraph 6) states 'If the competent authority decides in principle to classify a production or relay area it must:

(a) make an inventory of the sources of pollution of human or animal origin likely to be a source of contamination for the production area

(b) examine the quantities of organic pollutants which are released during the different periods of the year, according to the seasonal variations of both human and animal populations in the catchment area, rainfall readings, waste-water treatment, etc

(c) determine the characteristics of the circulation of pollutants by virtue of current patterns, bathymetry and the tidal cycle in the production area

(d) establish a sampling programme of bivalve molluscs in the production area which is based on the examination of established data, and with a number of samples, a geographical distribution of the sampling points and a sampling frequency which must ensure that the results of the analysis are as representative as possible for the area considered.'

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Application forms for classification of shellfish harvesting areas

If you are harvesting shellfish you need to make an application in liaison with your local authority who will submit the application. Separate forms are available in England and WalesScotland and Northern Ireland. Guidance on initial site selection from the microbiological point of view can be found on the Cefas website.