Tuesday, 26 March 2019
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
85. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the procedure for certifying Lough Foyle oysters after production as they enter the market; the body responsible for carrying out health and safety certification of Lough Foyle oysters; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13920/19]
In relation to the certification of fishery products entering the market, the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) conducts official controls on live bivalve mollusc production areas to ensure compliance by Ireland with its official control obligations, and compliance by operators with their food safety obligations. Many of the requirements are set down in EU regulations. The Sea-Fisheries & Maritime Jurisdiction Act 2006 clearly provides that the SFPA is independent in the exercise of its functions and as such I have no remit as to its work programme.
Under a Memorandum of Understanding with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, the official sampling of molluscs for both microbiological and biotoxin monitoring purposes is carried out by the cross-border Loughs Agency. The Loughs Agency falls within the remit of my colleague the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment.
The Marine Institute is the National Reference Laboratory for biotoxins in shellfish products. Harvesting of shellfish products for the market for human consumption can only take place when the biotoxin status is within the relevant limits. I understand that samples are sent from production areas around the coast to the Marine Institute for analysis in that regard.
I am advised that the Loughs Agency is responsible for coordination to ensure that product would not be allowed to be harvested from the Lough when a biotoxin regulatory limit is exceeded.
These are operational matters for the agencies concerned.