Changes afoot in seafood legislation

SEAFISH has recently published new guidance to help seafood businesses adapt to legislative changes relating to the provision of information to consumers.

From December 13, new EU regulation requires consumers to be provided with detail of the fishing gear used to catch their seafood, and a more precise indication of catch area for fish caught in some areas.

These incoming additions build on existing legislative requirements for industry to provide consumers with the commercial designation, species, production method and catch area for unprocessed seafood products. These will also include whether the product has been defrosted and the date of minimum durability for some products.

Peter Wilson, of the Regulation team at Seafish said: “These regulations only came into force in December last year and we have been receiving a high level of enquiries ever since. Industry members were looking for support in the interpretation of these new requirements and guidance on how their products should be labelled. This new guidance has been produced in response to these enquiries and aims to ensure that this legislation is well-understood by industry, in order that they can be fully prepared for these new developments in December.”

The biggest change is that the requirement to make consumers aware that product has been caught in the North East Atlantic now requires the reference to a particular sub area or division contained within it instead. So reference will now have to be made to areas such as the North Sea, Baltic and Bristol Channel. This is a significant change and requires the industry to consider how this information can be made available throughout the supply chain.

Peter continued: “To help keep industry informed, we have hosted a number of seminars in Grimsby, Peterhead, London and Shetland. We have received some great, positive feedback on these events, and will be delivering a session Northern Ireland in November.”

A guide is now available on the Seafish website that explains what information is required and provides current guidance on the application to fish and shellfish.