Food Law News - UK - 2000

16 May 2000: CONTAMINANTS - Ban Lifted on Mussels and Lobsters in Braer Shetland Exclusion Zone

FSA Press Release (2000/0010), 16 May 2000

Ban Lifted on Mussels and Lobsters in Braer Shetland Exclusion Zone

The Food Standards Agency today announced that from 00:01 hours 17 May 2000 there are no longer any restrictions on fishing in or around the Shetland Islands after the MV Braer oil spill incident seven years ago.

Restrictions in place in England, Wales and Northern Ireland on the landing, sale and movement of mussels and lobsters taken from a designated area of sea off the Shetland Islands have been lifted by the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health, Gisela Stuart. This action followed advice which has been agreed by the UK's Food Standards Agency.

The restrictions, which included restrictions on fishing and harvesting, were put in place following the grounding of the MV Braer in 1993 and applied throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The restrictions on fishing and harvesting in the designated area and the landing, marketing and sale in Scotland of mussels and lobsters from the designated area were lifted on 5 May by the Scottish Health Ministers.

The Exclusion Zone was imposed by The Scottish Office on January 8, 1993 and extended on January 27, 1993 in order to protect the reputation of marine produce from areas of Shetland unaffected by the Braer oil-spill. It covered a sea area off the southern part of the Shetland mainland. The restrictions were ended on fishing for whitefish and the 1993 crop of farmed salmon on April 24, 1993 and December 8, 1993 respectively.

Following the oil spillage, an extensive marine monitoring programme in the seas to the south of Shetland has been carried out by staff of the Fisheries Research Services, Marine Laboratory, Aberdeen (MLA). Restrictions on fishing for fish and farmed salmon were lifted in 1993, for crustaceans, with the exception of lobsters (Nephrops), in September 1994 and for shellfish, particularly, scallops and queens, in February 1995, except for commercially farmed mussels

MLA has continued to measure the impact of the oil spill on both species. The results from the 1999/2000 studies have been assessed by the Food Standards Agency which concluded that it is now safe to lift the restrictions for mussels and lobsters (Nephrops). Consumption of these shellfish from the previously restricted area no longer presents a risk to human health as a result of contamination from the Braer incident.

Restrictions throughout Scotland were lifted by a separate Order issued by the Secretary of State for Health. This came into force at 1500hrs on 5 May 2000.

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