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Shellfish

Guidance > Shellfish

What Does The Authority Do?

Mersey Port Health Authority (MPHA) conducts routine monitoring to reduce the potential for un-safe food (shellfish), being placed on the market. MPHA also ensures that shellfish beds are protected and managed effectively to safeguard public health.

MPHA and other partners such as North Western Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (NWIFCA), Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA), Local Authorities and other agencies, such as Police Authority, work closely together in monitoring and pro-actively managing the shellfish beds, not only during the open seasons, but also during managed closures of the production areas.

MPHA aim to ensure that shellfish harvested within of the jurisdiction Authority are not compromised. MPHA regularly provides advice and guidance to the shellfish industry to ensure that merchants and gatherers are informed of the food law requirements.

Do I Need To Register As A Food Business Operator?

Primary producers of live bivalve molluscs, who do not carry out any processing but only harvest product for onward sale, are required to register with the Local Authority (where the business is based) unless they are directly supplying small quantities of live bivalve molluscs under a Local Market Exemption.

Why Do I Need A Registration Document?

Registration documents provide traceability for shellfish (cockles, muscles etc) and are an important link in the chain of public health control measures designed to ensure that shellfish placed on the market are safe to eat.

To ensure traceability of the product a completed registration document must accompany each batch of live bivalve molluscs during transportation from the production area to the dispatch or purification centre.

Registration documents will be issued by MPHA for beds within our jurisdiction and will only be issued to valid NWIFCA Permit Holders.

A registration document must accompany each batch of shellfish and be completed by the Gatherer/Food Business Operator. Original copy must stay with consignment and copy retained by Gatherer/Food Business Operator, gatherers details must be included, although they can appoint an Agent.

How Do I Obtain A GLA Licence?

GLA are responsible for the issuing of licences and therefore you should contact them directly for licensing and general queries by telephone - 0845 602 5020 or 0044 845 602 5020 (outside the UK).  Lines are open Monday to Friday 9:00am - 5:00pm.

How Do I Obtain A NWIFCA Permit?

NWIFCA are responsible for the issuing of permits, you should contact the NWIFCA Carnforth Office on 01524 727970 or email office@nw-ifca.gov.uk or alternatively follow this link to their website www.nw-ifca.gov.uk

Please do not contact MPHA until you are in possession of a valid NWIFCA permit.

What Is A Local Market Exemption?

Regulation EC 853/2004 does not apply to the direct supply of small quantities of live bivalve molluscs to the final consumer or to local retail establishments directly supplying the final consumer.

For live bivalve molluscs, a small amount is a total amount of not more than 25 tonnes of fishery products in a calendar year. The total amount may be made up of any species with the exception that the total amount shall not exceed the maximum amount for the following species:

Species Annual Maximum amount
Cockles 25.0 tonnes
Oysters 5.0 tonnes
King Scallops 5.0 tonnes
Queen Scallops 10.0 tonnes
Mussels 20.0 tonnes
Other Live Bivalve Molluscs 10.0 tonnes
Marine Gastropods 20.0 tonnes


While Regulation EC 853/2004 does not apply to small quantities, it is still the responsibility of the harvester to ensure that the live bivalve molluscs they are placing on the market meet the end product standards set down for placing on the market. Any amount of the catch must have originated from an ‘A’ class area which means it can be placed on market with no further treatment required.

What Are Closure Notices And Why Do You Issue Them?

The Authority will issue Closure Notice, as the appropriate means to notify interested parties, when we are satisfied that the consumption of species covered by the Regulation taken from the area is likely to cause a risk to public health.

A Closure Notice might be considered appropriate where, for example, the classified mollusc production area was subject to sudden or accidental pollution which affected the quality of the production area. The use of a Closure Notice may also be appropriate where there is a local problem with environmental pollution caused by microbiological or chemical contamination, or due to the presence of marine biotoxins above the regulatory limits or toxin producing plankton.

There may also be circumstances when it would be appropriate for the Food Authority to consider seeking the opinion of appropriate experts such as the consultant in communicable disease control and consultant microbiologist at the HPA.

Current Classified Areas

Production Area Species Site Name Boundaries Status
Penfold South Cockle B046M   B
Hoylake Cockles Cockle B058T   B
Harrison Drive East Cockle B058R   B