What is a fishery product?
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.
What are bivalve molluscs?
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 wanting to export to the EU
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).