Human waste containment requirements for vessels – Questions and answers
Under the Canadian Shellfish Sanitation Program (CSSP), the Government of Canada implements controls to verify that only shellfish that meet food safety standards reach domestic and international markets. Section 9.2.2 of the CSSP manual requires measures to be in place to prevent contamination of shellfish by human waste from shellfish harvesting, handling and/or aquaculture vessels.
The information below can be used by shellfish processors and harvesters to support on-board human waste containment measures.
Why is it important to control human waste discharge from shellfish harvesting and maintenance vessels?
- Human waste (such as, feces, vomit) may contain harmful bacteria (for example, Shigella, Vibrio, and Salmonella) and/or viruses (for example, norovirus and hepatitis A virus) that can cause illness or disease in humans
- Disposal of human waste into or near shellfish areas can contaminate the water with these disease-causing microorganisms and lead to shellfish contamination
- Consumption of contaminated shellfish can cause illness ranging from mild gastroenteritis to typhoid fever and infectious hepatitis
- Outbreaks associated with contaminated shellfish may lead to closure of shellfish areas and market access, and can damage the reputation of the shellfish industry as a whole
- Closure of contaminated shellfish areas and loss of market access may lead to income loss for those earning a living from shellfish harvesting
What are the requirements for human waste containment receptacles on harvesting and maintenance vessels?
- Section 9.2.2 of the CSSP manual requires measures to be in place to prevent contamination of shellfish by human waste during shellfish harvesting or aquaculture maintenance activities
- The disposal of raw sewage such as human waste into or within three nautical miles of shore is prohibited under the federal Vessel Pollution and Dangerous Chemicals Regulations
- The province of British Columbia requires vessels to be equipped with a dedicated human waste receptacle as a condition of their shellfish aquaculture licence
What does the Government of Canada recommend shellfish harvesters do to prevent human waste from contaminating shellfish areas?
- Shellfish harvesting and aquaculture maintenance vessels should be equipped with a dedicated human waste containment receptacle that can be tightly sealed
- Human waste receptacles should be used only for storing human waste
- Waste receptacles should be emptied into an approved sewage disposal system after returning to shore and cleaned afterwards
- Good sanitary practices should be followed. Hands should be washed after using on-board facilities and after waste receptacles are emptied
- Harvesters are reminded not to dump human waste into or near shellfish areas, or within three nautical miles (5.6 km) of shore
What is a dedicated human waste containment receptacle?
A dedicated human waste containment receptacle is any container with a tight fitting lid that is used only for storing human waste. Some examples of human waste containment receptacles could include a fixed toilet with a holding tank, a portable toilet, or even a bucket with a tight fitting lid made from an impervious, cleanable material.
How can shellfish processors ensure that all shellfish purchased are safe and harvested using good sanitary practices?
- Develop and maintain a list of acceptable harvesters that have met the CSSP requirements, and have a monitoring system in place as part of the establishment's preventive control plan to ensure only product from these approved suppliers are received
- Establish Supplier Food Safety Assurance Program (SFSAP) agreements for incoming shellfish with harvesters to ensure they are meeting CSSP requirements
- Conduct onsite verification of the SFSAP at least once a year to ensure that SFSAP procedures are followed
- Incorporate verification activities at the harvest site to ensure that harvesters meet the CSSP requirements
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