Port Health

Approval of Factory & Freezer Vessels

When do vessels need to be approved?

Certain types of fishing vessels where fish are processed and/or frozen on board are classed as either ‘factory vessels' or ‘freezer vessels' and need to be approved with Pembrokeshire County Council.

Factory vessels are vessels on board which fishery products undergo one or more of the following operations followed by wrapping or packaging and, if necessary, chilling or freezing:

  • Filleting
  • Slicing
  • Skinning
  • Shelling
  • Shucking
  • Mincing, or
  • Processing

Freezer vessels are vessels on board which freezing of fishery products is carried out, where appropriate after preparatory work such as bleeding, heading, gutting and removal of fins, and, where necessary, followed by wrapping or packaging.

The approval requirement applies to such vessels regardless of where they fish and land their catch, providing the fishery products are destined for markets within the EU.  Local Authorities in the UK are responsible for approving such vessels if they are registered in the UK.  Vessels registered in other EU countries should be approved by relevant authorities in those countries.

Pembrokeshire County Council will approve such UK registered vessels only if they periodically visit the port of Milford Haven.  This is necessary so that officers from the Port Health Team can carry out periodic inspections in order to ensure compliance with relevant legislation.

Are any categories of vessels exempt from approval?

Only vessels, which are regarded as ‘factory vessels' or ‘freezer vessels', as defined above, are required to be approved.  Fishing vessels that land their catch daily, or simply pack fish in ice, are exempt from approval.       

What does approval mean?

Approved vessels will be given an Identification Number that is unique to their operation.  They will have to provide this information by means of an Identification Mark on the labels of their products. The identification mark can be recognised across Europe as having been produced in a premises approved under EC legislation.

Approved vessels have to comply with the same legislation that applies to all food businesses, but there are also additional requirements to be met depending on the specific products that they deal with.

How do I apply for approval?

By filling in the relevant application form. There is no fee for applying for approval.  The application form must be completed, signed and sent to Port Health Section at the following address:

Port Health Team
Pembrokeshire County Council
County Hall
SA61 1TP

What will happen following sending in an application form for approval?

If an application for approval is made, an officer of the Port Health Team will contact the vessel's agent to arrange an inspection.  An inspection of the vessel will be necessary to ensure that it complies with the structural, operational and food safety management requirements of the applicable legislation.

If everything meets the requirements, the approval and associated Identification Number will be issued. Otherwise the inspecting officer will determine the nature and extent of works required to meet approval criteria and communicate that to the owner/agent.  In certain circumstances ‘conditional approval' can be issued for a period of up to 3 months in order for works to be undertaken.  In certain circumstances the application for approval may also be refused by the Department. In such circumstances the owner/agent has the right of appeal to a Magistrate's Court.

ID: 2944, revised 29/06/2021