Handling aquaculture waste

Waste fish and shellfish are classed as animal by-products, and must be disposed of through approved means.

Animal by-products are classified into three categories according to risk to animal or human health, with materials in category one carrying the most risk, and materials in category three carrying the least.

Aquaculture activities produce different categories of waste: materials that have been brought ashore and then discarded - like damaged shellfish - are considered category three waste materials. These materials may only be disposed of at facilities licensed under the animal by-product regulations.

Disposing damaged shellfish at sea is not permitted, unless a license has been granted. Shell which is free of flesh may be used for clutch (spat collection), provided it is used only within the aquaculture site.

Mortalities not caused by the intentional slaughter for human consumption are classed as category two waste materials. These must also be disposed of through the relevant legal disposal routes.

As a producer of waste, all culturists in the UK have a general duty of care to ensure that all waste is properly treated, reused or disposed of, and EU regulations must be followed at all times.

More about legislation can be found on our pages about waste legislation and by-product legislation. Alternatively, you can find more about the disposal of animal by-products on the Animal Health DEFRA site.

We have also produced two useful guidance notes about the utilisation and disposal of mollusc shell waste and seafood waste at sea. The EU regulations themselves can be found here and here.