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Minutes of the Molluscan Shellfish Safety Committee - 26th May 2022

Date: 26/05/2022
Location: Videoconference

  • FSAI: David Lyons (chair), Christine King (minutes)
  • SFPA: Gary McCoy, Sarah Buckley, Aileen O’Sullivan, Peter McGroary
  • MI: Patrick Costello, Conor Duffy, Sinead Keaveney, Dave Clarke, Jonathan Kelly
  • IFA: Teresa Morrissey, Finian O’Sullivan
  • BIM: Richard Donnelly, Trish Daly
  • FSA NI: Will Wiltshire, Jenny Duckett
  • Industry: Pat Mulloy, Tristan Hugh-Jones
  • Apologies: Vicky Lyons (BIM), Joanne Gaffney (BIM), Miche├íl O’Mahony (SFPA), Charlotte Picard (IW), Carla McNeil (IW)

1. Review of the previous minutes

FOS queried the early warning system as part of the PSPSafe project that was discussed at the previous meeting. DC explained the modelling approach taken by their partners in UCD which they are hoping to try out on Alexandrium in Castlemaine Harbour. This modelling approach is different to what is currently in use as it records more environmental parameters.

THJ queried whether anything in relation to this project is happening in Cork and outlined his interest in being involved. DC explained that currently the project is focused on Castlemaine Harbour, however they are hoping to get out into other areas in order to attempt to profile Alexandrium for quicker analysis and identification.

TD queried whether DC is aware of the STREAM project. DC noted that he is familiar with it and has been in contact with a number of people involved on this project.

The previous minutes were agreed. They will be posted to the FSAI website in one week, if there are any comments in the meantime, please send them to

2. Standing items

2a. SFPA Update

GMcC gave an update on microbiological monitoring on behalf of the SFPA:

  • 387 samples taken in Q1 (Annex A, attached)
  • 12 samples taken for areas seeking preliminary classification (Broadhaven, Ballinakill and Clew Bay N & S)
  • A monthly breakdown from Jan to Apr 2020 of microbiological samples (total 520) per Port area is also summarised in Annex A.
  • 8 out of range results from Jan – April 2022 (1.5%) (Annex B, attached)

Biotoxin sampling frequency week ref 22 May 2022:

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

2022 Review of classifications:

  • 13th May 2022 Draft review of Classified LBM completed, circulated to IFA, SFPA Ports and BIM regional Staff for onward circulation to growers and Implementation team members.
  • Dataset Jan 2019 – Jan 2022. 4788 classification monitoring results.
  • All observations/comments must be received by Friday 10th June 2022 for inclusion at the Implementation Meeting.
  • Implementation team meeting 28th June 2022. Nearer to the date, a final decision will be made whether to conduct the 2022 annual review online via video conference or in person at an assigned venue.

TM and FOS queried the likelihood of having an in-person meeting for the review of classifications and what would be the deciding factor. In-person meeting would be their preference. SB noted their comments and advised that the decision will be made at a senior level within the SFPA, as in-person meetings have not started back for the SFPA yet.

PM queried whether it would be possible for samplers to receive notification of elevated results on a monthly basis, as this makes it easier for them to investigate the cause. THJ agreed that monthly results would be very useful for producers. DL reminded the group that the monthly samples taken by the SFPA aren’t intended to show risk in shellfish at a specific point in time, but to characterise the water body. However, he accepted that monthly results could be beneficial for producers and queried whether the SFPA could review how they communicated such results out. GMcC and SB agreed that they would look at this internally.

2 b. MI toxicity summary

PC gave an update on toxicity from March – May 2022 (report attached).

Management Cell decisions

  • 14/04/22 ASP event – Clarinbridge Closed for S.solida Closed Pending for all other species
  • Closed Pending status for C.gigas for Sligo Harbour from 19/04/22 and Drumcliff Bay 22/04/22 out of caution. Increasing trend of AST detected over the last 2 weeks in C.gigas nearing the regulatory levels from both Sligo Harbour and Drumcliff Bay.
  • ASP Event in Killary Inner & Outer where M.edulis was above regulatory levels, Closed Pending Status for Killary Middle for the week 19/04/22.
  • ASP Event in M.edulis was above regulatory levels (25.9 mg/kg) and was assigned Closed status, Closed Pending for Clew Bay C. gigas 11/04/22

ASP Summary

ASP-Event – At the beginning of March there was increases in cell no.’s for Pseudo-nitzschia seriata complex observed in a number of sites in the Southwest. During the ASP event in April no samples in the Southwest went above regulatory levels for the ASP toxin, Domoic Acid. The highest value recorded was 12.9 µg/g in South Chapel where the Pseudo-nitzschia seriata complex reached a maximum level 60080 cells per litre in Adrigole. The values for Domoic acid & cells per litre continued to decrease in the Southwest over the following 2/3 weeks.
On the West Coast an increase in cell density of Pseudo-nitzschia seriata complex group observed in a number of sites in Week 14. In the mussel samples from these areas up to week 10, During the ASP event in April samples from Killala Bay, Inishlaughill, Killary harbour, Island Eddy, Sligo Harbour and Drumcliff Bay in the West all went above regulatory levels for the ASP toxin, Domoic Acid. The highest value recorded was 64.3 µg/g in Killala Bay and the Pseudo-nitzschia seriata complex reached a maximum level 184384 cells per litre in Drumcliff Harbour. The values for Domoic acid & cells per litre continued to decrease in the West over the following 2/3 weeks.

DC has prepared a document summarising the ASP event which CK will circulate.

PSP Update

Since the Toxicity Summary Report was produced the situation with regards to PSP has changed. Quantifiable levels have been identified in Cromane, Castelmaine and Alexandrium has been found in the water in this area. This will be monitored over the coming weeks.

PM queried whether the ASP event in Clew Bay was likely to have been a once off or if it will be an annual occurrence. PM noted that it is too early to predict but they will keep an eye on it. DC added that ASP is commonly seen along the West Coast but it has been a number of years since levels have been this high.
DL introduced Jenny Duckett from FSA NI. JD queried whether Ireland plan to continue testing for PTX. CD noted that the MI are planning to stop analysing samples for PTX however they need sanction from the FSAI and SFPA and it will require a large amount of admin work.
DC noted that the MI have reviewed the amalgamate production area sampling system that has been in place for the past year, and they have decided to revert back to the previous system, where all production areas were sampled and analysed. DC noted that the COP could need to be amended to reflect this.
PM queried if this means Killary Inner, Outer and Middle will all have results reported now. DC confirmed this.
Action: CK to amend COP and circulate
Update: Completed on 31st May 2022

3. Microbiology and Virology

SK advised that the contracts with the E.coli test labs have been finalised and there has been no changes to the 4 labs who are currently conducting this analysis. The contracts have been renewed for a further 3 years. SK added that all the labs are preforming well in their existing QA schemes and the MI will be resuming on-site visits from September.

SK gave an update on NoV monitoring under the BIM Risk Management project with the Oyster Packers Group. Sampling has been reduced for the summer months.

DL advised that in relation to a regulatory standard for NoV, there was a meeting of the EU Working Group last week, however there is still no absolute clarity on where this will go. AOS explained that the 2020 proposal was for a viral limit of 500cpg at the time of dispatch, however the latest proposal is for controls to take place at harvest stage, and no limit was proposed. Ireland would prefer to see testing at dispatch and this was communicated to the EU WG. Many MS are in favour of a limit.

4. AOB

TM queried whether there was any feedback on IFA Aquacultures Organic Mussel proposal. DL advised that further consideration is required and suggested a sub-group meeting be held. FOS noted that he is anxious to get his progressed and TM noted that while the ultimate decision is with DAFM, they have advised that they will make their decision based on the opinions of the competent authorities (i.e., FSAI and SFPA). DL noted that a meeting should be arranged for 2 weeks’ time.

Next MSSC meeting is scheduled for the 28th July 2020