Canadian Shellfish Sanitation program - Manual of Operations
Chapter 4 - Harvesting and Handling Shellstock

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Each registered facility must consider, and where applicable, incorporate the following components in the development and implementation of their Quality Management Program.

4.1 Vessels and Conveyances

All vessels used for harvesting or transporting shellfish and all vehicles used for hauling bulk, bagged, containerized, or otherwise packaged shellstock shall be constructed, operated, and maintained in accordance with Schedule III, Requirements for Vessels used for Fishing or Transporting Fish, and/or Schedule V, Requirements for Conveyances and Equipment used for Unloading, Handling, Holding and Transporting Fresh Fish, of the Fish Inspection Regulations. Specific requirements applying to shellstock to be depurated or relayed are outlined in Chapter 10 of this manual.

4.2 Washing of Shellstock

4.2.1 Shellstock shall be washed reasonably free of sediments and detritus as soon after harvesting as is feasible. Shellstock shall be washed at the time of harvest at the harvest site. Where this is not practical because of harvesting methods or climatic considerations, the shellstock shall be washed only in a registered facility.

4.2.2 Water used for washing shellstock shall be obtained from an approved shellfish area, or from other safe sources approved by the CFIA.

4.3 Human Wastes

Measures must be in place to prevent contamination of shellfish by human wastes during shellfish harvesting and aquaculture maintenance activities.

Vessels are expected to comply with the following requirements and any other relevant federal, provincial, or territorial legislation or requirements. It is the vessel operator's responsibility to inquire about any additional requirements.

4.3.1 Vessels are prohibited from discharging raw sewage or human waste within 3 nautical miles of the shore unless the discharge is passed through a marine sanitation device that reduces the fecal coliform count to an acceptable level.Footnote 7

4.3.2 Vessels conducting shellfish activities within 3 nautical miles of the shore are expected to have a designated human waste receptacle or holding tank unless it is feasible and normal practice to return to shore to use washroom facilities. A designated human waste receptacle or holding tank means a portable toilet, a secured toilet Footnote 7 or other containment device.

4.3.3 Human waste holding tanks must meet all of the following requirements:

  • They must be made of impervious, cleanable materials, designed to prevent spillage.
  • They must have a tight-fitting lid.
  • They must be used only for the purpose intended.
  • They must be secured and in an appropriate location to prevent contamination of the shellfish area or any onboard shellfish due to spillage or leakage.
  • They must be emptied into an approved sewage disposal system in a manner that will not cause contamination of shellfish or shellfish harvest area.
  • They must be cleaned after they are emptied.

4.3.4 Every person onboard a shellfish harvest vessel must wash and sanitize their hands after using or cleaning a waste receptacle, or after using an onshore washroom facility.

4.4 Shellstock Identification

4.4.1 Shellfish harvesters shall be licensed as required by DFO or provincial regulations.

4.4.2 Sacks, boxes, and other shellstock harvesting containers shall be clean and fabricated from approved material.

4.4.3 The harvester shall identify shellstock, when required as a condition of licence or provincial regulation, with a durable, waterproof tag or label on each container of shellstock. When shellfish are sold in bulk, the harvester shall provide a transaction record prior to shipment.

4.4.4 The harvester tags, labels, or the transaction record shall contain the following information:

  1. the harvester's name;
  2. the most precise identification of the harvest location as is practical (e.g., Long Bay, Smith's Bay, or a lease number); and should include Area number (and sub-area if applicable);
  3. the date of harvesting; and
  4. the common name and quantity of shellfish.

4.4.5 When harvesters are not required to tag or label shellstock as a condition of a DFO licence or provincial regulation then the registered facility is required to identify the shellstock upon receipt so that the identity of the shellstock lot can be maintained throughout processing. The procedure for maintaining identity must be described in the registered facility's Quality Management Program.

4.5 Use of Master Harvesters

A Master Harvester should have a valid license to harvest shellfish, must be familiar with the local shellfish areas and must be willing to meet the conditions described in the Quality Management Program (QMP) of the registered establishment he/she works for.

The registered establishment is responsible for reviewing the background(s) of all Master Harvesters prior to the Master Harvester being assigned monitoring duties under the Quality Management Program. The Master Harvester must be able to demonstrate a willingness to work with the establishment, under the Fish Inspection Regulations, to ensure that the hazards associated with shellfish are controlled through accurate, reliable and consistent monitoring and reporting.

The QMP control measures for Master Harvesters must also include details on duties to be assigned to the Master Harvester, training (if required), specific monitoring activities at the harvest site(s), verification activities (by the establishment), corrective action procedures for non-compliance and record keeping (accurate, legible and auditable).

4.6 Temperature Control of Shellfish From Shellfish Areas to Registered Facilities

Temperature of shellstock shall be controlled during transport when ambient air temperature and time of travel are such that unacceptable bacterial growth or deterioration may occur.

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