While requirements to inspect fishing vessels for basic hygiene requirements are not new, Brexit has given them a renewed importance. Products exported to the EU will require an Export Health Certificate (EHC) signed by a certifying officer, who has to confirm that the fishing vessel that caught and handled the product is compliant with relevant hygiene regulation.
In England and Wales, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has written to local authorities to remind them of their requirement to inspect fishing vessels to ensure they are compliant with basic hygiene requirements. The FSA note that number of inspections per authority will not be excessive and the content will be limited. Local authorities who require additional resource to carry out the inspections in a timely manner may be able to access additional funding.
In Scotland, Marine Scotland Compliance already work with Food Standards Scotland (FSS) in highlighting any incidents that may be of interest to FSS and local authorities. Local authorities are encouraged to use this information to inform their own inspection regimes as required under food law.
In Northern Ireland, it is understood that the nature of the vessel inspection regime means that the impact is likely to be minimal.
While fishing vessels are unlikely to present a hygiene risk, vessel owners should be aware of the requirements and work with the relevant authority to ensure that required inspections take place. Vessel owners preparing for an inspection might find this checklist useful.