I catch or farm seafood

Information and guidance on fish caught or farmed and traded with the EU and Northern Ireland.

Published: Wednesday 4 November 2020


Content updated: Friday 19 November 2021

  • Questions and answers updated, 1 - 6.
  • New questions and answers, 7 - 9. 

 

1. Is my UK-flagged vessel eligible to supply fishery products for export to the EU?

All UK-flagged vessels supplying fishery products for export to the EU must be registered as a food business with the local authority, who will conduct hygiene inspections, to ensure the exported consignment complies with EU import rules. This applies to all vessels which are not approved food establishments.

The EU Export Health Certificate (EHC) for Fishery Products requires the certifying officer (CO) to attest that fish “have been caught and handled on board vessels, landed, handled and where appropriate prepared...in compliance with the requirements laid down in Section VIII, Chapters I to IV of Annex III to Regulation (EC) No 853/2004”. Certifying officers seeking evidence to satisfy themselves that this requirement has been met may require evidence of a vessel’s registration as a food business with a local authority.

To facilitate the export health certification process, businesses responsible for the UK-flagged vessels supplying the fish should provide evidence of their registration as a food business to the exporting establishment. Evidence must have been supplied from the local authority with which the vessel is registered as a food business, for example, via a letter on local authority headed paper or an email from a local authority email account.

2. What do I need to do to land my catch from a UK-flagged vessel directly into the EU and Northern Ireland?

If you are a UK-flagged vessel that is registered to a port in Great Britain and plan to land your catch directly into Northern Ireland, you will be classed as a UK vessel landing into an EU port.

If you are a UK-flagged vessel that is registered to a port in Northern Ireland different rules apply. Access this DAERA guidance for more information.

UK-flagged vessels registered to a port in Great Britain and planning to land fishery products directly into the EU should consider the following:

For all types of UK-flagged vessels:

a. Make sure you have an IMO Number if you fish in EU waters

UK-flagged vessels are required to register with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in order to apply for authorisation to carry out fishing activities in EU waters.

IMO registration is free and all UK fishing vessels must submit their IMO number to the Marine Management Organisation (MMO)

b. Make sure your intended port of landing is designated by NEAFC and the EU

You must ensure your UK-flagged vessel lands or transships at a port in the EU or Northern Ireland which is designated by both the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) and the EU.

A list of NEAFC designated ports.

Access a  list of ports at which sea fish may be landed in the EU and Northern Ireland, in accordance with EU IUU legislation.

 c. Obtain a Catch Certificate

Catch certificates are issued by the country where the fishing vessel is registered (the flag state). They prove that fish have been caught legally. They are not needed for freshwater fish, some molluscs (including mussels, cockles, oysters and scallops, fish fry or larvae). Visit question ‘36 How do I get a Catch Certificate, Storage Document and/or Processing Statement for my consignment to the EU?’ of our export guide, for more information.

The MMO’s Fish Exports Helpline can support you through the catch certification process. Telephone: 0330 159 1989.

 d. Obtain and submit a prior notification form

You must give the port prior notification of your arrival:

  • for frozen fish, at least 72 hours before landing
  • for fresh fish, at least 4 hours before landing

There are different prior notification forms for exempt e.g. some freshwater and aquaculture species (see Annex I of Commission Regulation (EU) No 202/2011 for full list) and non-exempt (or a combination of exempt and non-exempt) fisheries products.

More information on prior notification forms can be found in government guidance.

e. Obtain and submit a pre-landing declaration

You need to fill in a pre-landing declaration and email it to your destination EU designated port 4 hours before landing. You’ll need to give details of the:

  • area fished
  • quantity of fish by species on board the vessel

More information on pre-landing declarations can be found in government guidance.

 f. North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) Port State Control form (PSC1 or PSC2)

Speak to your licensing authority who can register your fishing vessel with NEAFC.

Once your vessel is registered, you need to create an account with NEAFC. to submit a Port State Control form (PSC1 or PSC2) before landing.

  • PSC 1 is required if the vessel is landing its own catch.
  • PSC 2 is required if the vessel has been engaged in transshipment operations.

Vessels carrying both their own catch and fish transshipped from other vessels are required to fill in both PSC 1 and PSC 2.

Visit the NEAFC website to find out how much notice you need to give for your PSC1 or PSC2. This will vary depending on the country you’re exporting to and how your product is presented.

For UK-flagged factory, reefer or freezer vessels only:

Vessels approved as a food establishment by the local authority, which land frozen or processed fish directly into the EU also require:

  • A Captain’s Certificate signed by the Captain who is authorised by the Animal and Plant Health Agency or DAERA. This certificate is required in place of an Export Health Certificate.
  • The fish to be landed into a Border Control Post (BCP) approved for the landed fishery product. Access a list of EU designated BCPs.

3. Can I land my catch in Great Britain and immediately load it onto a lorry for export to the EU/Northern Ireland?

EU rules require temperature-controlled fishery products to be dispatched to the EU from a UK approved food establishment. To become an approved food establishment, processing, wrapping or packing must take place at the premises. Only factory, freezer and reefer vessels can therefore become food approved establishments.

If you wish to export fishery products from a registered vessel immediately upon landing in England, Scotland or Wales, you could consider one of the following options:

  1. Sell your products at a fish market that is an approved food establishment, and from where the products can be issued with a health/identification mark and an Export Health Certificate;

    OR

  2.  Discuss requirements for becoming an approved food establishment with your local authority. This may require a change to your current processes. If you use vivier lorries, you may be able to acquire approved establishment status for the vehicle.

    Visit question ’12. Can my vivier lorry obtain approved establishment status?’ of our export guide, for more information.

When the fish are exported to the EU or Northern Ireland, they need to comply with wider HMRC guidance on customs requirements for exporting to the EU and be accompanied by certain documentation:

  • Most seafood species will require a catch certificate. See question ‘36 How do I get a Catch Certificate, Storage Document and/or Processing Statement for my consignment to the EU?’ of our export guide, for more information.
  • An Export Health Certificate. See questions 31-35 of our export guide, for more information.

4. How do I import live bivalve molluscs (e.g. mussels and oysters) from the EU for aquaculture purposes?

England, Wales and Scotland
To import live aquatic animals from the EU:

  • You or your agent must pre-notify the import using the UK’s Import of Products, Animals, Food and Feed System (IPAFFS). You must use IPAFFS to pre-notify at least one working day before your consignment is due to arrive.
  • You will need to give the EU exporter or their official veterinarian/fish health inspector the unique notification number (UNN) that is produced on IPAFFS so it can be added to the health certificate which accompanies the consignment. You also need to upload a copy of the health certificate onto IPAFFS in advance of the import. Allow time for this when making the IPAFFS pre-notification. You can submit your notification up to 30 days in advance.
  • You must ensure the consignment is accompanied by the original, signed Export Animal Health Certificate which meets UK standards for entry into Scotland or England and Wales. Contact the Fish Health Inspectorates (Cefas in England and Wales or Marine Scotland) in advance of making any import arrangements to confirm the health certification requirements and the correct template to use.
  • You need an EORI number. See questions 24 of our export guide, for more information.
  • You must also comply with customs requirements.

From 1 March 2022
You will also need to ensure your imports of live aquatic animals from the EU:

  • Enter through a suitable Border Control Post (BCP) so they’re available for documentary, identity and physical checks. Only some BCPs are approved for live aquatic animals. Access a full list of UK BCPs.

Access UK Government guidance for more information on importing or moving live aquatic animals.

Scotland
For information on the rules relating to the import of live aquatic animals from an EU country, please access this Marine Scotland guidance.

For specific queries please contact the Fish Health Inspectorate (Scotland) team.

Northern Ireland
The rules for importing live aquatic animals into Northern Ireland depend on where they are being moved from.

Importing live aquatic animals from England, Scotland and Wales require:

  • The importer in Northern Ireland to notify DAERA of the proposed movement via TRACES NT, a minimum of 24 hours before arrival of the consignment into a Northern Ireland port.
  • The consignment to be accompanied by the original Export Animal Health Certificate signed by the Fish Health Inspectorate (at Marine Scotland or Cefas).
  • Arrival via a designated Point of Entry, for live fish this will be via Belfast or Larne ports.
  • A physical inspection by officials upon arrival.
  • You need an EORI number. Visit question 25 of our export guide, for more information.

For more information on the rules relating to the import of live aquatic animals from Great Britain, please access this DAERA guidance.

For information on the rules relating to the import of live aquatic animals from the EU, please access this DAERA guidance.

5. How do I import live aquatic animals from Northern Ireland and the Crown Dependencies into Great Britain for aquaculture purposes?

England and Wales
For movements of live fish and shellfish from Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands, and the Isle of Man:

  • Movements of fish, molluscs and crustaceans that are susceptible to or vectors for serious (notifiable) diseases must be accompanied by an animal health certificate, using the correct template for movements from Northern Ireland and the Crown Dependencies. The certificate must confirm that the goods meet the animal health requirements for entry into England and Wales.
  • Contact the Fish Health Inspectorates (Cefas in England and Wales or Marine Scotland) in advance of making any import arrangements to confirm the health certification requirements and the correct template to use.
  • If a health certificate is required it must be issued and completed by the Competent Authority responsible for aquatic animal health at the source site, your supplier should make this arrangement with them. The original, signed health certificate must accompany the consignment.
  • You must provide a copy of the original, signed health certificate to one of the FHIs within 24 hours of arrival in GB.
  • The FHIs will carry out documentary checks and, if required, risk based physical checks at destination.

Find out more about moving goods into, out of, or through Northern Ireland

6. How do I import live aquatic animals (e.g. mussels and oysters) from a non-EU country for aquaculture purposes?

You cannot import fish caught by vessels with flags from Comoros, Cambodia or Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. This is because these countries have not been cooperative in taking action against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

England and Wales
To import live aquatic animals from a non-EU country:

  • You or your agent must pre-notify the import using the UK’s Import of Products, Animals, Food and Feed System (IPAFFS). You must use IPAFFS to pre-notify at least one working day before your consignment is due to arrive.
  • You will need to upload a copy of the health certificate onto IPAFFS in advance of the import. Allow time for this when making the IPAFFS pre-notification. You can submit your notification up to 30 days in advance.
  • You must ensure the consignment is accompanied by the original, signed Export Animal Health Certificate which meets UK standards for entry into England and Wales. You should contact the Fish Health Inspectorate (FHI) in advance of making any import arrangements to confirm the health certification requirements and the correct template to use.
  • Enter through a suitable Border Control Post (BCP) so they’re available for documentary, identity and physical checks. Only some BCPs are approved for live aquatic animals. Access a full list of UK BCPs.
  • You need an EORI number.
  • You must also comply with customs requirements.


Scotland
The Fish Health Inspectorate in Marine Scotland must be notified of all planned imports using the relevant notification forms.

For information on the rules relating to the import of live aquatic animals from a non-EU country, please access this Marine Scotland guidance.

For specific queries please contact the Fish Health Inspectorate (Scotland) team.

Northern Ireland
For information on the rules relating to the import of live aquatic animals from a non-EU country, please access this DAERA guidance.

7. How do I move live aquatic animals from Great Britain to the EU or Northern Ireland for aquaculture purposes?

The EU Commission has indicated that undepurated Live Bivalve Molluscs (LBMs) from Class B waters cannot be imported from Great Britain into the EU for the purpose of depuration (purification). This affects both wild harvested LBMs and those from aquaculture.

LBMs from aquaculture production businesses (APBs), which are intended to go for further farming / on-growing in the EU, must be accompanied by a specific Export Health Certificate.

This certificate is limited to LBMs sourced from aquaculture establishments and does not cover wild sourced molluscs. You should contact the Fish Health Inspectorates (Cefas in England and Wales or Marine Scotland) to obtain these certificates.

LBMs exported for farming should be unaffected by the current trade restrictions imposed by the EU on LBMs exported for purification in the EU. However, it is strongly advised that exporters obtain confirmation, in writing, from the Border Control Post in the importing country that the consignment will be accepted before starting the export process. Any decision to export LBMs for this purpose is a commercial decision and will be carried out at the exporter’s own risk.

England, Wales and Scotland
To export live fish and shellfish to the EU or Northern Ireland:

  •  Your consignment must be accompanied by an export animal health certificate. You or your importer must find out the animal health certification requirements from the competent authority or official service for aquatic animal health in the destination country. For movements to Northern Ireland, you or your customer will need to check the animal health certificate requirements with DAERA.
  • You need to apply to the Fish Health Inspectorates (FHI) at Cefas or Marine Scotland, for an export animal health certificate using form EXP1, giving a minimum of 5 working days’ notice prior to export.
  • The FHIs will assess the animal health certification requirements and confirm whether your export can meet these. If it can, the FHI will produce the certificate and contact you to arrange an inspection of your goods for export.
  • If the export inspection is satisfactory the FHI will sign and issue the health certificate. The original health certificate must accompany the consignment.
  • Your export must be checked and cleared at an EU Border Control Post (BCP) that can accept the type of goods, in the first EU country they enter.
  • Make sure your importer or EU-based import agent has notified the BCP that your consignment is arriving. They need to check with the BCP to find out how much notice is required and use the EU system TRACES-NT to make the notification.
  • Make sure your consignment meets all labelling requirements for clearance through the EU-BCP and transport to destination. Your EU-based importer or their Agent should be able to confirm these requirements with you.
  • You need an EORI number. Visit questions 24 and 25 of our export guide, for more information.
  • You must also comply with customs requirements. Visit the ‘customs and tariffs’ section of our export guide, for more information.
  • Follow animal welfare during transport rules. Contact APHA for more information.
  • Find out what happens if your consignment is rejected at an EU BCP. Consider how to redirect your trade route if needed.

Scotland
For more information on the rules relating to the movement of live aquatic animals to the EU, including Northern Ireland, please access this Marine Scotland guidance.

Northern Ireland
For information on the rules relating to the movement of live aquatic animals to the EU, please access this DAERA guidance.

8. How do I export live aquatic animals to a non-EU country for aquaculture purposes?

Exports to non-EU countries may require an animal health certificate and additional testing for certain diseases. The certification and testing requirements are determined by the Competent Authority of the receiving country. It is the responsibility of the exporter to obtain a copy of the required certificate and details of any additional requirements.

For more information on the rules related to the export of live aquatic animals from England and Wales to non-EU countries, access this guidance.

Contact Marine Scotland or DAERA for more information exporting live aquatic animals to non-EU countries.

9. How do I move live aquatic animals from Great Britain to the EU or Northern Ireland for direct human consumption?

Live aquatic animals intended for direct consumption by the final consumer – such as crabs, lobsters, live oysters and mussels (if from Class A waters or depurated),– are considered animal products and not live animals. These products will therefore be subject to controls applying to animal products rather than live animal controls and are subject to circumstantial rules.

Scallops caught in unclassified waters cannot be directly placed on the EU market. Scallops can be exported to the EU and Northern Ireland if they have been processed or have undergone biotoxin testing which has rendered them fit for human consumption. Consignments of scallops must be dispatched to the EU from a UK food approved establishment.

Visit our export guide for more information on moving live aquatic animals for direct human consumption.