Growers and harvesters of bivalve molluscan shellfish
If you grow or harvest bivalve molluscan shellfish (BMS) commercially, you must operate in a classified growing area, and meet requirements under the BMS regulated control scheme (BMS RCS).
Requirements for BMS growers and harvesters
The food safety requirements come from the following legislation:
Animal Products Notice: Regulated Control Scheme – Bivalve Molluscan Shellfish for Human Consumption [PDF, 874 KB] [PDF, 874 KB]
Meeting food safety requirements
To meet your food safety requirements, your first point of contact is your local MPI animal product officer. They're responsible for ensuring you and your operation meets all the BMS RCS requirements.
To find out how to contact an MPI animal product officer:
Where you can grow or harvest shellfish
All commercially grown or harvested BMS in New Zealand must come from a shellfish growing area that is classified for harvest for human consumption. You can either:
- establish your own classified shellfish growing area, or
- join an existing area.
List of classified growing areas
Classified growing areas are registered with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). We have a list of classified growing areas:
Set up a BMS growing area
If you want to establish and operate a BMS growing facility, you first need to get approval from your regional council.
The council will let you know what permits and resource consents you need.
Sanitary survey requirement
Before we can classify and list a new shellfish growing area, an MPI animal product officer needs to do a sanitary survey. This involves:
- a survey of the area
- water and shellfish flesh studies
- preparing a sanitary survey report and a management plan for the growing area.
A sanitary survey can take at least 12 months –usually takes longer.
Once the sanitary survey is complete
When the sanitary survey has been completed and any relevant management plans put in place, the animal product officer will make a request to MPI's regional shellfish specialist for the growing area to be listed by MPI.
The process for getting a growing area classified is in parts 2 and 3 of the Animal Products Notice: Specifications for Products Intended for Human Consumption [PDF, 1.3 MB]
The classification requirements are specified in the Animal Products Notice: Regulated Control Scheme – Bivalve Molluscan Shellfish for Human Consumption [PDF, 874 KB]
Manage a shellfish growing area
Every growing area has a management plan prepared by the MPI animal product officer. The plan covers aspects of your operation which present a hazard to food safety. These include management of:
- waste water
- marine biotoxins
- harvesting procedures.
The MPI animal product officer produces an annual report on the growing area. This helps ensure that the area remains compliant.
For more details, see the following clauses of the Animal Products Notice: Regulated Control Scheme – Bivalve Molluscan Shellfish for Human Consumption [PDF, 874 KB]
- part 4, clause 4.1 (1)
- part 5, clause 5.1 (1)
- part 3, clause 6.1 (1)
Sampling of BMS shellfish and their growing waters
Your growing area's management includes any sampling you need to do of the:
- shellfish you're growing
- water where they're growing (growing waters).
The plan includes what you need to do, and how often. All sampling must be done by a certified sampler.
Apply to become a shellfish and water sampler
If you want to become certified as a shellfish and water sampler, use application form AP43:
List of certified samplers
MPI keeps a list of all certified samplers:
Apply to join an existing growing area
If you want to join an existing shellfish growing area, you need to phone the MPI animal product officer in your area. They will will:
- complete a report
- seek approval from existing members of the growing area for you to join.
If approved, the animal product officer will:
- make a request with MPI for you to be listed on the MPI website
- arrange for you to be added to the growing area listing on our list of growing areas.
You'll be listed with your "authority identifier". This is a unique number. You can grow or harvest BMS in any growing areas that your authority identifier is linked to.
Find out if a growing area is open or closed
Sometimes, we close shellfish growing areas. This can be because of:
- marine biotoxins.
Your management plan will explain:
- how the opening or closing of the growing area is notified, and
- the system you use to do this.
Systems might be different in different areas.
Release of shellfish that were recalled due to marine biotoxins
Sometimes, shellfish product is recalled when an area gets closed because of marine biotoxins. Animal product officers can potentially release shellfish that were recalled. The decision to release is based on the Guidance document: Release of fish or fish product detained or recalled for marine biotoxin reasons [PDF, 337 KB]
Shellfish Quality Assurance Programme Delivery Centres (SQAPDCs)
You must give consumers and regulatory agencies (like MPI) an assurance that shellfish you grow, harvest, transport, or store is safe to eat.
BMS industry groups come together to provide a cost-effective programme to ensure shellfish operators in each growing and harvesting area comply with the RCS requirements. SQAPDCs will help ensure that you meet BMS RCS requirements.
Shellfish growers or harvesters can choose to be a member of a local SQAPDC or form their own SQAPDC.
Who to contact
If you have questions about growing and harvesting BMS, email firstname.lastname@example.org