Harvesting for domestic use is mostly unregulated. Shellfish to be used as part of a commercial activity for human consumption must come from a classified production area. Shellfish are usually found in shellfish beds. These are classified depending on the level of E coli bacteria in the shellfish flesh. The classification will be species specific, meaning that only those classified can be harvested.
Gathering Live Shellfish for Personal Consumption
Gathering Live Shellfish for Commercial Purposes
Southern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority
Port Health Authority
Fareham Borough Council – Environmental Health
Who do I report shellfish harvesting to?
Southampton Port Health Authority undertake the sampling programmes for the shellfish beds that are within Fareham Borough and are responsible for food safety issues up to the mean high-water mark. They also issue the registration documentation for shellfish harvesting.
Shellfish can be harvested from Hill Head legally, providing certain conditions are met. In terms of enforcement, a number of agencies have an interest, as detailed below.
Gathering shellfish for personal consumption is permitted on the shellfish beds. There is no limit on the quantity that can be collected set in law, but the Food Standards Agency suggest a maximum of 5kg per person.
Gathering cannot be organised by an unlicensed gang master; gangmasters working in certain industries are licensed by the Gang Master and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA). The GLAA check working conditions, pay, health and safety, VAT, NI contributions etc.
Contact details: 0800 432 0804
The harvesters need to comply with Southern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation (SIFCA) byelaws when harvesting shellfish.
Oysters, mussels and clams can only be picked by hand; tool use is prohibited. Cockles must not be able to pass through a square hole with 28.3 mm sides, and if using a rake, it must be smaller than 305 mm wide and have at least 22.5 mm tooth spacing. Native oysters cannot be removed from 1st March to 31st October.
Contact details: 01202 721373
SIFCA website: www.southern-ifca.gov.uk/
The harvesters should comply with relevant food laws, and the shellfish must be safe to eat when it goes on the market. Gatherers should complete a registration document for each batch landed.
Contact details: 023 8022 6631
Following up food safety issues in the Borough above the high-water mark is the responsibility of Fareham Borough Council (FBC). In order to do this FBC would need intelligence to support the fact that the shellfish are connected to a local business. Where there is a connection to local food businesses, we are able to enforce food safety requirements at those premises in relation to any shellfish found. We will also liaise with other Local Authorities and the National Food Crime Unit at the Food Standards Agency where necessary.
Contact details: 01329 824399
Natural England is the government's adviser for the natural environment in England. The intertidal zone at Hill Head forms part of the Lee-on-the-Solent to Itchen Estuary Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) due to its importance for overwintering birds. The intertidal zone is also designated as a Special Protection Area (SPA) under the EU Birds Directive.
Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 it is an offence to intentionally or recklessly destroy, disturb or damage any of the features of a SSSI. The shore here is 'Littoral sediment' which is a feature of the SSSI. Without consent, shellfish harvesting could be considered as an 'Operation likely to damage' the site. Harvesters wishing to gather shellfish for commercial purposes within a SSSI must first seek the permission of the landowner/occupier. Before granting such permission, the landowner/occupier must get written consent from Natural England.
Contact details: 0300 060 3900
If you have specific concerns about any of the areas detailed above, you can report either to the agency best suited to deal with that concern, or to Environmental Health at Fareham, who will then share the information with all of the agencies. When there is evidence that shellfish harvesting is regular and in significant quantities, all of the above agencies will try to work together to investigate.