Minutes of the Molluscan Shellfish Safety Committee - 16th July 2019

  • FSAI: David Lyons (Chair), Helen Carney
  • SFPA: Brian Nolan
  • MI: Dave Clarke, Sinead Keaveney, Conor Duffy
  • BIM: Vicky Lyons, Geoff Robinson
  • Irish Water: Maeve O’Reilly, Valerie Hannon
  • ISA: John Harrington, Teresa Morrissey, Finian O’Sullivan
  • HSE: Paul Hickey
  • EPA: Liam O’Sulleabhain
  • Apologies: Joe Silke (MI), Micheál O’Mahony (SFPA) Bernard Whelan (industry), Ray Harty (ISA), Paul Duane (SFPA), Finian O’Sullivan (ISA), Pat Mulloy (industry), Andy Mulloy (industry)

DL welcomed all attendees and did a roundtable of introductions. 

1. Minutes and matters arising from the previous meeting (2nd April 2019)

The minutes were accepted with minor changes. Update: The Agreed minutes are now available on the FSAI's MSSC Webpage.

2. Brexit Update

DL noted that the FSAI Brexit team will stay in place and are proceeding on the basis of a no deal and are preparing around this.
BN mentioned that SFPA have taken on additional staff and recently another 5 new SFPO’s have started. BN mentioned that the work load will increase tenfold, health certs being one side and IOU certs the other. A minimum of 48hours notice will have to be given to SFPO’s to sign off documents etc. 

3. Standing Items

3a Update on Shellfish Monitoring Co-ordination

BN provided an update on shellfish monitoring since the last meeting in April 2019. 

Annex A Micro Sampling Report

Annex B Elevated results Jan - June 2019

A discussion took place around the dumping of dredged material in Malahide. BN mentioned that a detailed investigation and follow up was carried out and the local SFPO did not think the wastewater treatment plant in the area was causing the issue. It was mentioned that the Ringsend wastewater treatment was modelled, and it does not reach as far as Malahide. BIM mentioned that they are doing a lot of monitoring in Malahide at the moment for another project.
DL mentioned that FSAI received calls through their advice line on recreational gatherings of shellfish. FSAI response was that this would not be advisable. 

3b Toxicity Summary Report

The toxicity report which was circulated and covers from April to June 2019. DC mentioned that we are half way through 2019 and it has been a busy year on the toxicity side. In mid-April there was a big ASP event which has not been seen in the Southwest in the last 3-4 years. This level was 8 times the regulatory limit in Kilmakillogue. DC mentioned that ASP comes quickly but also leaves quickly. A management cell decision was made to close a number of sites.

FOS queried what kind of ratio was in the phytoplankton samples as regards the type of Pseudo-nitzschia. DC mentioned that it is nearly 90% Pseudo-nitzschia australis. TM queried when MI do molecular analysis how do they get it down to species. DC mentioned that MI look at 6 different species (both toxic and non-toxic species) of Pseudo-nitzschia and conduct confirmatory analysis when required in parallel to Light Microscopy.
In May, DSP was in quantifiable levels which lead to closures in Bantry and Kenmare. This is on-going, and levels are rising. The limit for DSP is .16 and a finding of 1.71mg/g was found in Castletownbere which is very high. In the west, Killary harbour was closed in June and July.
PSP has been observed at significant levels in Castlemaine harbour this year, usually it would not be observed in this area but this year it has significantly increased. MI are looking into why this is happening.
A query was raised in relation to weather conditions favouring algae. DC mentioned that this is the case every year regardless of the weather, certain blooms are more favourable to certain species i.e. light integrity and warmer temperatures may favour certain species.  

3c. Management Cell Decisions

A discussion took place around the communication loop for the management of cell decisions. It was mentioned that the communication loop needs to be tightened to ensure that queries are responded to and decisions are made within a certain timeframe. The process needs to be ensure that all relevant personnel including industry are informed of the final decision.
Action: All agencies involved in this process to brief relevant personnel on this. 

3d. Clarification Re. ‘Closed’ status for Roaringwater bay over the weekend of 8/9th June 2019

FOS mentioned that sometimes on Habs a bay can come up as closed but it might not be closed. DC explained that if a sample is received but no result is available the status of that production site goes to closed/expired on Habs i.e. status goes to closed/expired but not closed for toxicity. A question was raised if this status could be changed on the system so that the system is programmed to look for a sample in the system prior to going to closed/expired. If there is a sample in the system, the status should not appear as closed.
DC mentioned that MI will look into this and revert to relevant personnel. 

4. Biotoxin programme

4a. HABs2 Biotoxin module (MI)

DC gave a presentation on Habs2. Habs2 has now entered the third phase which has been very successful so far. The system automatically uploads results once they are submitted/approved. This is all QA controlled. Habs 2 works through dashboards which allows people to work remotely. DC introduced Dave Brennan to the group who has been the team lead of the development team for Habs2.
It was queried if it would be possible to have Habs on MI’s homepage as unless you know specifically about Habs you would not know where to find it on the homepage. 

4b. Phytoplankton sampling – rationalisation of areas 

MI mentioned that they are in a difficult position resource wise, as there are 3 analysts doing over 3000 samples per year and one sample can take 3 -4 hours to analyse. MI raised the question in relation to the reduction of samples been taken. This would involve looking at all production areas to determine if a sample is needed from each area. DC asked if it would be possible to reduce the number of samples been taken by targeting areas that are being oversampled for example Bantry has 9 production sites, but it may not be necessary to send in a sample from all 9 sites similarly in Kenmare where there are 6 production sites.

DC mentioned that if they reduce the number of sites they can do a full community count on the samples. FOS and JH mentioned they would look at this proposal but by in large they were in agreement with this.

5. Microbiology and Virology

5a Norovirus Management

Ray Harty has requested this agenda item from the MSSC meeting in March but was unable to attend the meeting in March and again in July so this agenda item was deferred.


5b. Shellfish Classification 2019

BN mentioned the classification meeting which was held on the 27th June. The classification areas were sent to the board on the 4th of July and were signed off yesterday (15th July). This information should be available on the website shortly. 

6. EFSA Baseline survey

SK provided an update on this survey and mentioned that the EFSA report was published yesterday (15th July). SK mentioned that this was a 2-year survey which ran from November 2016 – October 2018. 22 production areas and one dispatch centre were randomly selected by EFSA as Ireland’s contribution to the overall EU member state survey. Samples were collected monthly to provide for a better indication of the prevalence of norovirus. The report issued by EFSA will consider all member states. The Irish results confirm strong seasonal trend of norovirus in the winter. Out of the positive results, 40% are below the limit of quantification and 14% are greater than 1000 copies/g.

EFSA may look at potential standards which may be introduced to manage norovirus.
It was mentioned that tertiary treatment is very important and a useful control as it significantly reduces the level of the virus. 

7. The 11th Shellfish Safety Science Workshop

This workshop is taking place on the 8th October in the Radisson Hotel in Athlone. MI are working through an agenda and will circulate in the next month.
DL mentioned that the next MSSC is taking place on the 7th October in the afternoon in Athlone also. 

8. AOB

The IFA will be holding their first aquaculture conference on the 26th September in the Connacht Hotel in Galway. The agenda will be circulated in due course.
4th July 2019, BIM received Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification for Ireland Rope Grown Mussels.

Last reviewed: 8/6/2020

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