Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

In association with ISA Logo Irish Sailing

Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority Classifies Shellfish Areas According to Water Hygiene

6th July 2010
Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority Classifies Shellfish Areas According to Water Hygiene

The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) has published the 2010/11 Shellfish Area Microbiological Classification. This document classifies shellfish production areas according to water quality.


The European food regulations require shellfish areas to be classified using the amount of bacteria found in sampled shellfish, as an index of water quality. The resultant outcome is one of three classifications; ‘A’ (highest quality, lowest bacterial count) through to ‘B’ and ‘C’. This classification defines how these shellfish may be marketed, for example, shellfish consumed directly may only be harvested from ‘A’ areas, that is, waters meeting the highest microbiological standards. Conversely, shellfish harvested from areas of lower water quality require further depuration/purification or cooking prior to sale.

In Ireland, SFPA is the Competent Authority for the classification of shellfish areas, under the Service Contract with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI). SFPA officers, in collaboration with shellfish farmers, carry out regular sampling of areas, for analysis at laboratories under the supervision of the Marine Institute (MI). Those results are collated and consultation takes place with the shellfish industry in accordance with an agreed Code of Practice for the Microbiological Monitoring of Bivalve Mollusc Production Areas which describes the procedures and criteria for the classification of Irish shellfish harvesting areas.

Micheal O’ Mahony, Authority Board Member with the SFPA said: “The Irish shellfish industry produces some of the finest shellfish in the world. Microbiological Classification of areas is a resource-intensive function of the SFPA and we need to have confidence that the classification attributed to each area provides a meaningful reflection of water quality in that area. Whilst we are delighted to see upgrading in a number of areas, it is disappointing however to see downgrading in certain locations. Bacteria in coastal waters generally arise from discharges and/or natural drainage of human or animal wastes and have direct influence on the safety of food harvested from those areas. While shellfish producers have a responsibility to produce safe food, and to market their produce according to the classification of production areas; coastal water quality can only be maintained and improved through active stewardship of the coastal environment by all relevant stakeholders.”

The links to Classified Bivalve Mollusc Production Areas in Ireland and Code of Practice for the Microbiological Monitoring of Bivalve Mollusc Production Areas are below: 

2010 Classified Bivalve Mollusc Production Areas in Ireland <

COP for Microbiological Monitoring of Bivalve Mollusc Productions Areas  <


Published in Fishing Team

About The Author Team

Email The Author is Ireland's dedicated marine journalism team.

Have you got a story for our reporters? Email us here.

We've got a favour to ask

More people are reading than ever thanks to the power of the internet but we're in stormy seas because advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. Unlike many news sites, we haven’t put up a paywall because we want to keep our marine journalism open. is Ireland's only full–time marine journalism team and it takes time, money and hard work to produce our content.

So you can see why we need to ask for your help.

If everyone chipped in, we can enhance our coverage and our future would be more secure. You can help us through a small donation. Thank you.

Direct Donation to Afloat button

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

mgm sidebutton
bjmarine sidebutton
xyachts sidebutton

Featured Associations

ISA sidebutton
isora sidebutton

Featured Events

tokyo sidebutton
sovscup sidebutton
vdlr sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton
viking sidebutton

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
sellingboat sidebutton

Please show your support for Afloat by donating