Guidance

How to trace, weigh and distribute fish products

Fishery products must be traceable at all stages of production, processing and distribution, from catch or harvest to retail sale.

Tracing fish products

Fishery products may be put into ‘lots’ and adequately labelled or packed using a code, barcode, electronic chip or other similar method.

A ‘lot’ is a quantity of fisheries and aquaculture products of a given species of the same presentation and coming from the same relevant geographical area and the same fishing vessel, or group of fishing vessels, or the same aquaculture production unit.

After first-sale you can split or merge lots, but only if it is possible to trace them back to the catching or harvesting stage.

The label and information must include the:

  • identification number of each lot
  • external identification number and name of the fishing vessel or the name of the aquaculture production unit
  • FAO alpha-3 code of each species *date of catches or date of production
  • quantities of each species in kilograms expressed in net weight or, where appropriate, the number of individuals
  • name and address of the suppliers
  • commercial designation, the scientific name, the relevant geographical area (see reference codes and the production method
  • whether the fisheries products have been previously frozen or not

Traceability checks will normally be carried out by food authorities, through trading standards officers or environmental health officers. Marine Management Organisation (MMO) enforcement officers may also check traceability information.

Traceability is implemented through the Fish Labelling Regulations 2013 and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has provided guidance.

Weighing fish products

All fish must be weighed using an approved and certified weighing system on landing before they are sold or transported for sale or storage.

Alternatively you may:

  • weigh a specified sample of the catch in accordance with the UK sampling plan for weighing catches in port
  • transport the catch to a registered auction in the UK where the catch may be weighed or sample weighed in accordance with the UK sampling plan
  • transport the catch direct to a private buyer, merchant or agent in the UK where the catch must be fully weighed on receipt at the premises in accordance with the UK control plan
  • transport the catch abroad to Belgium, France or Ireland in accordance with the UK’s common control programmes with these countries, providing that all fish is weighed at first marketing or storage

Record weighing

The figure resulting from the weighing must be used for completing landing declaration, transport document, sales note and take over declaration.

A record of the weighing operation must be made and retained for 3 years indicating:

  • the FAO alpha-3 code of the species weighed
  • result of weighing for each quantity of each species in kilograms product weight
  • the external identification number and the name of the fishing vessel from which the weighed quantity originates
  • presentation of the fisheries products weighed
  • date of weighing (YYYY-MM-DD)

Transport fish

The transporter must submit a copy of the transport document to the relevant UK fisheries authority within 48 hours of the fish being loaded. If the fish is transported outside the UK, an additional copy of the transport document must also be submitted to the authorities of the destination member state within 48 hours.

The transport document must include the:

  • the destination of the consignment(s) and the identification of the transport vehicle
  • the external identification number and name of the fishing vessel that has landed the products
  • the FAO alpha-3 code of each species and the relevant geographical area (see reference codes in which the catches were taken
  • the quantities of each species transported in kilograms in product weight, broken down by type of product presentation or, where appropriate, the number of individuals
  • the name(s) and address(es) of those receiving the fish products
  • the place and date of loading

The transporter does not have to carry a transport document if the information is submitted electronically before the transport begins. If the products have been weighed and a landing declaration has been completed, then this, or a document providing the same detail, can replace the transport document.

If the fish has already been sold (as declared in a sales note) before the transport starts, the transporter must be able to provide documentary proof that a sales transaction has taken place.

Further information

Information on the traceability requirements can be found in article 58 of Council Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009 and articles 66 – 68 of Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 404/2011.

Information on the weighing requirements can be found in articles 60 to 61 of Council Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009 and articles 69 to 89 of the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 404/2011.

Information on the transport requirements can be found in article 68 of Council Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009.