Operational guideline: monitoring for marine biotoxins in Geoduck in British Columbia
On this page
- 1.0 Purpose
- 2.0 Background
- 3.0 References documents
- 4.0 Definitions
- 5.0 Acronyms
- 6.0 Operational guideline
- 7.0 Product Compliance
The purpose of this document is to provide guidance to Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) inspection staff on monitoring of marine biotoxins in Geoduck.
This document is intended to be used in conjunction with other guidance documents such as the Canadian Shellfish Sanitation Program (CSSP) Manual, and Control plans for molluscan shellfish test results exceeding Canadian maximum levels, standards, or guidelines.
The guidance outlined below should be used when monitoring marine biotoxins in Geoduck in British Columbia and should be incorporated into the Western Area's Marine Biotoxin Monitoring Control Plan.
Monitoring programs established by the CFIA are the main tool used to manage marine biotoxins and protect consumers from consumption of contaminated product. Typically, the marine biotoxin monitoring program uses mussels as the sentinel species to provide early warning or an indication of levels of marine biotoxin contamination in commercially harvested shellfish species.
In December 2014, Hong Kong closed the border to Canadian Geoducks due to elevated marine biotoxin levels. As a result, CFIA updated and implemented an approach for monitoring marine biotoxins in Geoducks on an interim basis, and trade with Hong Kong resumed.
In light of the 2014 Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) in Geoduck issue, CFIA conducted an in-depth analysis including CFIA sampling results. Based on the analysis, it was determined that mussels were not providing an accurate indication of marine biotoxin levels in harvested Geoducks in British Columbia.
As a result, CFIA developed a revised monitoring procedure whereby Geoducks are tested to provide an indication of marine biotoxin levels in this species. The revised monitoring procedure applies to Geoducks from both intertidal and subtidal zones.
This change only applies in British Columbia where testing of Geoducks will be used for the management of the Geoduck and horse clam fisheries. This approach will be evaluated by CFIA, using data and other relevant information as needed, to ensure that program objectives are met.
3.0 References documents
- Canadian Shellfish Sanitation Program (CSSP) Manual
- Operational procedure: Control response plans for molluscan shellfish test results exceeding Canadian maximum levels, standards, or guidelines
- Health Canada's maximum levels for chemical contaminants in food (Table 1)
- Integrated Fisheries Management Plans - DFO Pacific Region
- Operational guideline - Developing a marine biotoxin monitoring control plan
Unless specified below, definitions are located in either the
- Safe Food for Canadians Regulations: Glossary of Key Terms
- Integrated Agency Inspection Model (iAIM) - Glossary of Terms (Annex F)
- My CFIA Glossary of Terms
In this document refers to marine biotoxin monitoring
- Category I Area
Defined harvest area where only harvesting of Geoducks is allowed
- Category II Area
Defined harvest area where harvesting of Geoducks and well as other bivalve molluscan shellfish is allowed
- Roving sampling site
Marine biotoxin monitoring site, which may change to reflect the ongoing fishery activities. It is representative of the Category I or Category II Area where harvesters plan to harvest. This site will be located within the active area
- Active Area
Area where harvesting is actively taking place. It can be the subarea or a more defined location
Acronyms are spelled out the first time they are used in this document and are consolidated in the Food business line acronyms list.
6.0 Operational guideline
This operational guidance should be incorporated into the Marine Biotoxin Monitoring Control Plan of Western Area.
6.1 Monitoring of marine biotoxins in Geoducks
The frequency of marine biotoxin monitoring in Geoduck depends on the category of the area (I or II) where harvest is taking place. In Category II Areas, the frequency of marine biotoxin monitoring for mussels as sentinel species should remain unchanged (as per Marine Biotoxin Monitoring Control Plan for the area). Monitoring can be more frequent, as required. However, the total number of monitoring samples for Geoduck would be determined based on the work plans.
A Category II Area may be managed as a Category I Area when only Geoduck harvesting is allowed. In that case, marine biotoxin monitoring samples would be collected as per the Category I Area considerations. In order to allow harvest of other bivalve shellfish in the Category II Area, marine biotoxin monitoring samples would be collected as per the Category II Area considerations.
6.2 Considerations for All Areas (Category I and Category II)
- A Geoduck sample consists of three animals taken from the same bed
- A satisfactory marine biotoxin sample result meets Health Canada's maximum levels for chemical contaminants in food for biotoxins in bivalve shellfish edible tissue
- The CSSP Program Manual continues to apply, such that three consecutive acceptable marine biotoxin results are required within a minimum 14 day period to open or reopen any shellfish fishery
- Over a "14 day period" means the first sample is taken on day 1 and the third sample is taken no earlier than day 14
- Where monitoring samples from one site represents several sub-areas, the results obtained will be the basis of the decision to place those subareas in the open or closed status
- A late or missed monitoring sample may cause a precautionary closure of the area. Following a precautionary closure, only one sample meeting the Health Canada's maximum levels for chemical contaminants in food for biotoxins in bivalve shellfish edible tissue could be required to place the area in open status.
- Samples will be collected from active area(s) at the historical monitoring frequency or a frequency that is reflective of the harvest activity, season and historical levels (no less than once every 14 days)
- Historical monitoring frequencies for mussel samples are weekly in the summer and biweekly in the winter. Monitoring can be more frequent, as required (depending on the levels of marine biotoxins detected).
- The harvest areas will remain subject to other closures already in place (For example: closure to harvest of butter clams)
6.3 Additional considerations for Category I Areas
- Geoduck samples will replace the sentinel mussel samples traditionally used for monitoring purposes. Geoduck samples will be taken from roving sampling sites representative of the harvest area intended to be placed in the open status
- 3 consecutive satisfactory Geoduck results over a period of 14 days are required prior to placing a harvest area in the open status
- After an area is placed in the open status, Geoduck monitoring samples will be collected from roving sampling site(s) at the historical monitoring frequency for mussel samples. The roving sampling sites must be representative of the harvest area.
6.4 Additional considerations for Category II Areas
- 3 consecutive satisfactory results for mussel samples from the designated site(s) over a period of 14 days are required prior to opening or reopening an area for harvesting all shellfish except Geoduck and horse clams
- 3 consecutive satisfactory results for Geoduck samples from the roving Geoduck site(s) over a period of 14 days are required prior to opening or reopening an area for harvesting Geoduck and horse clams
- after an area is placed in the open status, monitoring samples of both the mussels and Geoducks will be collected from their appropriate respective site(s) at the historical monitoring frequency for mussel samples
- Where the results from a Geoduck monitoring sample exceed the Health Canada's maximum levels for chemical contaminants in food for biotoxins in bivalve shellfish edible tissue, but the mussel biotoxin monitoring result from the same site is satisfactory, the represented area will be placed in closed status for the harvest of Geoducks and horse clams only
- In the scenario, a review of potential impacts on the harvest of other bivalve shellfish will be completed by the shellfish specialist to determine if further sampling is required. The same principle applies in the reverse scenario.
Where there are multiple industry stakeholder groups harvesting within one area, industry stakeholders will be responsible for determining who will provide the required Geoduck samples to the CFIA.
7.0 Product Compliance
If samples exceed the Health Canada's maximum levels for chemical contaminants in food for biotoxins in bivalve shellfish edible tissue, Area Operations staff should follow the procedures outlined in the Operational procedure: Control plans for molluscan shellfish test results exceeding Canadian maximum levels, standards, or guidelines.
Area Operations staff should inform National Issues Management Office (NIMO) of any exported product not meeting requirements, so that the relevant information can be provided to the importing country's competent authorities via the Policy and Program Branch – Food Import and Export Division.
For general inquiries related to this Operational Guidance Document, please follow established communication channels, including submitting an electronic Request for Action Form (e-RAF).
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