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Date: 25th May 2021, 11am
Location: Video-conference

  • FSAI: David Lyons, Christine King
  • SFPA: Brian Nolan, Peter McGroary, Aileen O’Sullivan, Sarah Buckley
  • MI: Dave Clarke, Pat Costello, Conor Duffy, Sinead Keaveney, Olivia Fitzgerald
  • BIM: Vicky Lyons, Richard Donnelly
  • IFA Aquaculture: Teresa Morrisey, Finian O’Sullivan
  • Industry: Pat Mulloy
  • Irish Water: Claire Cremin, Kate Harrington, Valerie Hanon, Mark Dowling
  • EPA: Liam O’Suilleabhain
  • Apologies: Trish Daly (BIM), Andy Mulloy (Industry)

1. Review of previous minutes (23/03/21)

DL noted that the action to include a more in-depth discussion on scallops at today’s meeting has been deferred to the Q3 MSSC, as the 2nd EFSA Opinion has not yet been published.

Action: Include Scallops discussion as agenda item for Q3 MSSC
Update: Item moved to Q4 agenda
CD noted that the MI are now fully accredited for both instruments for ASP analysis.
DC noted that the Biotoxin COP has not yet been reviewed and updated to include the procedures for hand delivery of samples to the MI and the amalgamation of sampling areas. DL noted that the COP will be reviewed, and the final draft will be presented and approved at the Q3 MSSC.

Action: Include COP review as agenda item for Q3 MSSC
Update: Item moved to Q4 agenda

The minutes were accepted and will be posted on the FSAI website in one week.

2. Standing items


DL noted that there are no major updates to report in terms of Brexit. Systems appear to be running smoothly. Next big date for shellfish industry is 01st October – veterinary certification for exports.

Update on Shellfish Monitoring Coordination (SFPA)

Brian Nolan gave an update on shellfish monitoring:

Official monitoring of Classified Bivalve Mollusc production areas in Ireland

  • 380 samples were submitted by the SFPA and Lough’s Agency in Q1.
  • A further 7 micro samples were submitted from production areas seeking preliminary classification.
  • 3 x samples were also submitted as part of a bacteriological survey under the Sanitary Survey of Dungarvan.
  • There were 9 out of range results detected between January and April 2021 (approx. 1.6% of samples taken).

Biotoxin sampling frequency week 24 May 2021

  • Weekly sampling frequency for Mussels on all coasts.
  • Fortnightly sampling frequency for Scallops from classified areas.
  • Bantry Bay - Weekly sampling frequency for all shellfish other than Mussels.
  • Weekly sampling frequency for PSP monitoring Castlemaine and Cork harbour.
  • All other production areas - Monthly sampling frequency for all shellfish other than Mussels

2021 review of classifications

  • 05 May 2021 Draft review of Classified LBM completed, circulated to ISA, SFPA Ports for onward circulation to growers and Implementation team members.
  • Dataset Jan 2018 – Jan 2021. 4848 classification monitoring results.
  • All observations/comments must be received by Friday 11th June 2021 for inclusion at the Implementation Meeting.
  • Implementation team meeting 23 June 2020 via video conference.

Toxicity Summary Report (MI)

PC gave an update on toxicity:

  • There have been no site closures between March and May 2021
  • Between March and May no samples tested above regulatory levels for AZP or DSP
  • The Spring bloom of pseudo-nitzchia began in week 10 in the South West and North West, however levels did not go above ¼ of the regulatory limit.
  • Nationally all samples submitted for PSP analysis during March 2021 – May 2021 were observed to be typically N.D. The two Castlemaine Harbour sites of Banc Fluich & Cromane East both showed low levels of GTX-2,3 & were below the level of the lowest standard. Therefore, as is part of the test Method these were reported as N.D. on the Screening Report of week 20. Going forward samples from these sites will now be analysed for PSP Toxins using the Full Quantitative Test.

FOS queried whether DNA testing has resumed on pseudo-nitzchia cells. PC noted that MI do not currently have the resources to carry out DNA testing. DC commented that the MI hope to have the PCR testing up and running sometime in the future, but for now resources are limited. FOS noted that IFA would welcome the return of PCR testing and DC thanked FOS for his support.

Management Cell decisions – PSP in Castlemaine

DL noted that an email was sent out this morning with the details of a 1 hour briefing that will be given next Monday with regard to PSP. Details can be shared with any interested parties. DL asked DC if he would be ok with the briefing being recorded to share with colleagues who cannot attend (FSA NI have requested this). DC agreed that it would be ok to record the briefing. DL noted that any questions can be sent in advance to DL or CK. DC noted that the briefing will not focus on how PSP came to be in Castlemaine, DL, TM and BN agreed that this is a good approach.

A Management Cell meeting took place on the 20th May and it was decided that;

  • If measurable quantities of PSP are detected, formal communications to be issued – FSAI news item (text agreed by all agencies)
  • If 50% of regulatory limit is reached (400ug/kg), formal advice to be issued regarding voluntary precautionary closures i.e. advising producers against harvesting as PSP concentrations can spike very quickly
  • If 50% of regulatory limit is reached, a briefing will be given to Public Health Professionals
  • If regulatory limit is reached, bay is closed

FOS queried would a press release be at local or national level? DL noted that there are no current plans for issuing a press release, a news item will be published on the FSAI website. If PSP levels go above the regulatory limit the situation will be reviewed to determine whether a press release is required. DC added that it is important that the message gets out to recreational gatherers.A discussion regarding Alexandrium ssp. and toxicity took place. DC noted that the MI hope to have PCR testing up and running in next few weeks to identify the ssp. of Alexandrium in Castlemaine. A discussion took place regarding how PSP may have gotten into Castlemaine however this is currently unknown. DC noted that a research proposal has been submitted to try obtain grant funding to conduct further research into PSP in Castlemaine.

VH queried whether there has been an increase in algal levels across the South West seaboard due to weather conditions? DC noted that we are just coming out of the spring bloom and there have been reports of surface scum which arise due to the breakdown of phytoplankton due to weather conditions.

3. Biotoxin Programme

Alertoxnet (MI)

Olivia Fitzgerald gave a presentation on the Alertoxnet Project that the Marine Institute have been involved in. Further information is available on . Olivia’s work primarily focused on the unregulated toxin Tetrodotoxin (TTX). No TTX has been identified in Ireland.

DL thanked OF and opened the floor to questions. FOs queried whether the grouped test can quantify levels of different toxins? OF confirmed that it does quantify results for each analyte.

DL queried when the samples were taken. OF noted that samples were taken each month but with a particular focus on July and August as TTX is usually found at higher sea temperatures. DL queried whether the ELISA test being developed by Queens could be further developed into a rapid test for producers? OF noted that this was the original intention of this piece of work and it is still being developed.

PM queried whether there would be ongoing analysis to confirm the absence of TTX in Irish waters. OF noted that there are currently no plans to continue testing, however the methods have now been developed if they are ever needed.

4. Microbiology and Virology

SK noted that the BIM risk management project for NoV in oysters ended in April 2021. BIM issued a tender for a new project and MI were successful in winning that tender. TM queried how long the tender is for? VL noted that it is initially for 12 months, with the possible potential to extend by 12 or 24 months, this is currently being finalised.

SK noted that the EURL for E.coli will issue a whole animal proficiency testing scheme this summer. The MI will participate along with the official control labs for E.coli.

5. MSSC meeting dates and times

DL noted that the MSSC meetings have traditionally taken place at 11am on the last Tuesday of the month (once per quarter). However, FSAI have been asked if it is possible to change the meeting day. DL suggested 10am on Thursdays (10am if remote meeting only) and this was agreed by the group. The revised MSSC dates for the remainder of the year are now as follows:

  • MSSC Q3 - Thursday 29th July at 10am
  • MSSC Q4 - Thursday 21st October at 10am

6. AOB

TM acknowledged that the issues surrounding the hand delivery of samples to the MI has been resolved and thanked the MI team for their assistance with this.