Inshore fishing vessels and food safety

Inshore fishing vessel operators must follow food safety guidelines when they dehead, gut, and scale fish. Depending on your activities, there are different processes you need to follow.

Inshore vessel processing activities

Inshore vessel (boat) operators do these processes with the fish they catch:

  • deheading
  • gutting
  • scaling
  • chilling or freezing.

Guideline to help inshore fishing vessels meet requirements

Voluntary food safety guidelines are available for fishing vessels that:

  • supply product to domestic markets or export markets
  • do not operate under a risk management programme (RMP)
  • do not operate under the Limited Processing Fishing Vessels (LPFV) Regulated Control Scheme (RCS).

The guidelines can help you make sure that you meet your requirements under the Food Act 2014 and the Animal Products Act 1999.

You can follow the guidelines to:

  • make sure that you handle fish safely
  • make sure that your hygiene practices are safe
  • get advice on controlling the temperature of seafood.

Even though the guidelines are voluntary, you must still meet the requirements of the Food Act 2014. You can check you're following the right safety rules using our online tool My food rules

A guide to preventing histamine poisoning

New Zealand has a history of histamine poisoning, particularly in summer. The Histamine guide shows you how to protect public health by preventing the development of histamine in susceptible fish species.

General requirements for all inshore vessel operators

If you supply fish from your inshore vessel (other than live fish), you must comply with section 62 of the Animal Product Notice: Specifications for Products Intended for Human Consumption.

This notice requires suppliers of fish (that are not live fish), to ensure that the fish are:

  • chilled or frozen from the time of catching or harvesting to the time of arrival at the processing premises
  • handled in a way that minimises contamination and deterioration.

Animal Products Notice: Specifications for Products Intended for Human Consumption [PDF, 1.3 MB]

Fish that are temporarily held on land before being transferred to the primary processor, other than bivalve molluscan shellfish (BMS), must be held in an animal material depot listed for that purpose by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

Find out about animal material depots storing fish and seafood

You may also need to meet requirements under the Food Act 2014. You can check you're following the right safety rules using our online tool My food rules

Find out about the Food Act 2014

Requirements for fish processors under the Fisheries Act 1996

If you process fish, you also have to meet requirements under the Fisheries Act 1996 and related legislation. Requirements can include:

  • using conversion factors for processed fish
  • using correct fisheries species codes
  • tagging southern bluefin tuna.

Find out more about commercial fishing requirements

Filleting fish on board inshore fishing vessels

If you fillet finfish on a fishing vessel, you need to operate under a registered risk management programme (RMP).

Risk management programmes (RMPs) for seafood

Filleting of finfish at sea is classified as primary processing.

Animal Products (Definition of Primary Processor) Notice 2000

Resources for developing your fish filleting RMP

RMP template for inshore vessels – fish filleting [PDF, 354 KB]

RMP template for inshore vessels – fish filleting [DOC, 482 KB] 

Guidelines for using the risk management programme template – Inshore vessels fish filleting [PDF, 63 KB]

Using the templates makes you eligible for an evaluation exemption

Normally, when you develop an RMP, you need an RMP evaluator to evaluate it. However, when you use an RMP template, you don't need to do this. Use the waiver document to apply for an evaluation exemption.

Waiver of the requirement to provide an independent evaluation report [PDF, 117 KB]

Find out more about RMPs

Risk management programmes (RMPs) for seafood

Risk management programmes (RMPs)

Exporting filleted fish

To export filleted fish, you need a fully customised and registered RMP.

Risk management programmes (RMPs) for seafood

Inshore vessel product eligible for European Union countries

If you operate an inshore vessel and plan to export the fish product to the European Union (EU), you must meet additional requirements. These come from the EU Overseas Market Access Requirements (OMAR).

Find out about exporting seafood

Who to contact

If you have questions about inshore fishing vessels and food safety, email info@mpi.govt.nz

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