Monitoring and testing fish and seafood

Find out how fish and other seafood are monitored by industry and government.

Why is fish and seafood monitored?

Seafood and fish is monitored for chemical contaminants, including biotoxins. This includes freshwater fish and bivalve molluscan shellfish (BMS).

Industry and government share responsibility for monitoring seafood using a range of programmes. Commercially grown or harvested seafood is monitored under the Animal Products Act 1999. This ensures that it:

  • is safe and suitable to eat
  • meets export requirements set by destination countries.

Fish monitoring

The monitoring of fish is funded by industry. This includes farmed salmon. Fish are monitored as part of the National Chemical Residues Programme (NCRP).

National Chemical Residues Programme for non-dairy animal products

Seafood contamination is monitored through sampling and surveillance. Reports with results from the monitoring are released each year.

Documents for NCRP

If contamination is suspected

If contamination or the risk of contamination is identified:

  • surveillance activities are put in place, which can include a sampling regime and a sampling plan
  • the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) keeps a list naming any sources and operators involved
  • operators are notified that they are on the surveillance list.

Shellfish monitoring

There are shellfish monitoring programmes for shellfish that are gathered commercially and recreationally.

  • monitoring for commercial growers and harvesters of BMS
  • monitoring for recreational gatherers of BMS.

Biotoxin monitoring by commercial growers and harvesters

The programme for commercial growers and harvesters is funded by industry. It includes any shellfish intended for sale or export.

Monitoring of shellfish is carried out under the Regulated Control Scheme for BMS.

Animal Products (Regulated Control Scheme – Bivalve Molluscan Shellfish) Regulations 2006

Animal Products Notice: Regulated Control Scheme - Bivalve Molluscan Shellfish for Human Consumption [PDF, 874 KB]

Application Form AP43: Application for Certificate of Competency as a Sampler [DOCX, 78 KB]

If commercial shellfish growing areas are affected by shellfish toxins, the areas are closed for harvesting.

Find out more

Growers and harvesters of bivalve molluscan shellfish

Biotoxin monitoring for non-commercial use or personal consumption

MPI runs a monitoring programme for shellfish that are gathered recreationally. Samples of shellfish and seawater are taken each week and checked for contamination. If biotoxins are found, MPI issues warnings and notifies the local district health board, who may also issue warnings.

Shellfish biotoxin alerts

Who to contact

If you have questions about monitoring for fish and seafood, email

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