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You’ll need to apply for classification of a shellfish harvesting area from the Food Standards Agency in Northern Ireland (FSA in NI) if you’re harvesting shellfish in Northern Ireland.

The classification covers:

  • live bivalve molluscs (such as mussels, oysters, cockles and clams)
  • tunicates
  • echinoderms

A shellfish harvesting area is the area where you commercially harvest shellfish. FSA in Northern Ireland needs to know where that area is, and where its boundaries are.

Your production area must have a classification. The classification will determine what you need to do before shellfish can be placed on the market.

Classification Permitted levels of E. coli per 100g flesh What this means
A 230 or less Shellfish can go straight for human consumption if it meets the end product standard
B 231 to 4,600 Shellfish must be purified, relayed to Class A waters for at least 2 months or cooked by an an approved method
C 4,601 to 46,000 Shellfish must be relayed to Class A waters for at least 2 months or cooked by an approved method
Prohibited 46,001 or above Shellfish is prohibited from human consumption, and harvesting is not permitted

How to apply

Complete the application form to apply. FSA in Northern Ireland will usually contact you within 20 days to talk about what happens next.


You may be asked to provide a number of samples before your get your classification. Your production area may be declassified if you fail to do this.


You should contact FSA in Northern Ireland in writing if you’re unhappy with the classification you’ve been given. FSA in Northern Ireland will get back to you to arrange a meeting.


FSA in Northern Ireland
Telephone: 02890 417 761
Minicom: 02890 417 726

Anthony Higgins
Primary Production
FSA in Northern Ireland
10a-c Clarendon Road