Inshore fishing vessels and food safety

Inshore fishing vessel operators must follow food safety guidelines when they dehead, gut, and scale fish. If you fillet fish, you need a risk management programme (RMP). If your vessel harvests seafood for the New Zealand market or export, you must follow the Food Act 2014 and the Animal Products Act 1999.

Inshore vessel processing activities

Inshore operators carry out the following processes with their catch:

  • deheading
  • gutting
  • scaling
  • chilling or freezing.

Voluntary guideline for inshore fishing vessels

A voluntary food safety guideline has been developed by MPI and the Seafood Standards Council, a committee of the New Zealand Seafood Industry Council. You can follow this guideline to ensure safe fish handling and hygiene practices, and for advice about controlling the temperature of seafood so that you have confidence you comply with the Food and Animal Products Acts.

The guideline applies to fishing vessels that:

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

Histamine poisoning

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

Find out more on the Seafood Standards Council website.

Other legislation

Complying with the Food Act 2014

Even though the guideline is voluntary, you must comply with requirements of the Food Act 2014. This Act places the duty on the person who trades food to ensure that it is safe and suitable.

Complying with the Animal Products Act 1999

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

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 MPI.

Find out about animal material depots:

Complying with the Fisheries Act

If you process fish, you also have to meet fisheries management requirements under the Fisheries Act 1996 and related legislation.

Filleting fish on board inshore fishing vessels

If you fillet finfish on board a vessel, you need to operate under a registered risk management programme (RMP). Filleting of finfish at sea is classified as primary processing under the Animal Products (Definition of Primary Processor) Notice 2000.

A template and guidelines have been developed for industry use.

RMP template: Inshore vessels - Fish filleting

Exporting filleted fish

If you wish to export filleted fish, you must have a fully customised and registered RMP.

Find out more about RMPs for seafood:

Inshore vessel product eligible for European countries

If you operate an inshore vessel and the fish product is to be exported to countries in the European Union (EU), there are specific requirements in the EU Overseas Market Access Requirements for inshore vessels.

Find out more about the requirements for exporting seafood:

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