Vessel Inspections

Vessel Inspections

Ships and Aircraft are defined as food premises under The Food Hygiene (Ships and Aircraft) (Wales) Order 2003, and consequently the Port Health Team are tasked with undertaking inspections of all ships that enter the ports of Milford Haven and Fishguard in order to enforce the requirements of food hygiene legislation.

Enforcement of minimum standards is often difficult due to language and cultural differences with foreign crew, and, compliance is usually secured through informal discussion and advice.  However, if required a mechanism exists to ensure compliance via legal methods whereby the Food Standards Agency act as a liaison body with the relevant agencies in the countries where foreign ships are registered. 
Because ships and aircraft move from port to port, and may visit the UK infrequently, liaison between port health authorities takes place to ensure that follow-up visits and inspections are undertaken in order to ensure progress with any matters that need rectifying.  Liaison between authorities also takes place to ensure that there is planning and consistency of inspection, enforcement and educational activities.  The Association of Port Health Authorities (APHA) performs a vital role in this liaison process, and provides a link between the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and port health authorities.  This is achieved by the use of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between APHA and the MCA.

Ship Sanitation Control Certificates

Foreign going merchant vessels are required, under the International Health Regulations 2005, to be inspected at six monthly intervals and issued with either a Ship Sanitation Control Exemption Certificate or a Ship Sanitation Control Certificate, which records the inspection of the vessel and either the exemption from controls or control measures applied.

These certificates replace the Deratting Certificates and Deratting Exemption Certificates, which were a long established requirement world-wide.

Ports around the world have been designated by the World Health Organisation to issue the new certificates. Milford Haven Port Health District (Pembrokeshire County Council) is designated for the issue of both certificates at all ports and terminals within its district. To arrange an inspection of a vessel and issue of a certificate, please contact the Port Health Team giving as much notice as possible.

The full list of designated UK ports can be viewed on the Association of Port Health Authorities website:

A full list of designated ports around the world can be viewed on the WHO website: 
The fees for the new certificates have been reviewed following their implementation and can be found here 

Fishing Vessels

Changes to food hygiene legislation in January 2006 mean that minimum standards for structure, hygiene and landing requirements now apply to fishing vessels.  The Port Health Team is responsible for enforcing these provisions.

Food Hygiene on Fishing Vessels gives detailed information on the requirements for fishing vessels.

Pest Control

Pests can cause particular problems on board vessel, ranging from spread of disease from country to country, to contaminating food supplies and cargos carried on ships.   Many types of pests can be found on ships, but the most common are cockroaches and rodents.

Pest Control on Vessels gives further information on this matter.


Rabies is a central nervous system disease of mammals with the highest case fatality ratio among infectious diseases.  It is zoonotic (can be passed from animals to humans) and is most commonly transmitted by the bite of an infected animal.  Rabies in terrestrial animals is present in all continents with the exception of some islands (e.g. Hawaii, Japan and New Zealand), an increasing number of European countries and Antarctica. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimate that 50,000 rabies deaths occur in humans worldwide each year. The highest number of human rabies cases are reported in Africa and Asia, particularly the Indian sub-continent. 
The UK has very strict Rabies laws, and anyone wishing to bring an animal into the country must abide by quarantine regulations or face possible punishment.  Although the Port Health Team does not enforce such laws, they are ideally positioned to undertake surveillance work on this matter.

ID: 2935, revised 29/06/2021

Pest Control on Vessels

Rodent control

Rodent control both aboard vessels and within premises in the port area has always been of major importance in preventing the spread of rat-borne disease from foreign shores. Rats spread diseases such as Plague, Leptospirosis (Weil's Disease) and food poisoning such as Salmonella. In addition rats can cause significant damage to food cargoes, food premises and equipment.

Mice can be a problem on river pleasure craft, especially those that are permanently moored. They gain access via gangways, services ducting and pipe work and continue to live and breed on board, spreading dirt and disease wherever they go, damaging the structure, food and food packaging, contaminating food preparation surfaces, utensils and equipment.


Cockroaches can be a problem on some merchant vessels because there are lots of spaces on ships which are hard to access and treat, including behind and below equipment, in voids and ducting and between bulkheads and deckheads.

Cockroaches spread diseases such as Salmonella and other food poisoning bacteria as well as being a potential vector for viral infections. They multiply into large colonies very quickly given warm, dark, damp conditions and a ready supply of food. Their treatment and eradication is essential to improving and maintaining good public health standards on board ships.

ID: 2936, revised 29/06/2021

Food Hygiene on Fishing Vessels

The changes to food hygiene legislation that took effect from January 2006 mean that minimum standards for structure, hygiene and landing requirements now apply to fishing vessels.

Vessel Structure

  • Vessels must be designed so that products are not contaminated by bilge water, sewage, fuel or any other objectionable substance
  • Surfaces, which fishery products are in contact with, must be made of corrosion resistant material that is easy to clean.
  • Equipment used for working on fishery products must be corrosion resistant and easy to clean.
  • Where a water intake is used with fishery products it must be situated so that the water supply is not contaminated.


  • The areas used for storage of fishery products must be kept clean and in good repair. They must not be contaminated with bilge water or fuel.
  • Fishery products must be protected from contamination, the sun and other sources of heat as soon as possible after coming on board.
  • Potable water or clean seawater must be used when washing fishery products or making ice for chilling fishery products.
  • When handling and storing fishery products, bruising must be avoided. The use of a spiked instrument is only allowed to move large fish which might injure the handler and only if the flesh is not damaged.
  • Fishery products that are not being kept alive must be chilled as soon as possible.  Where this is not possible they must be landed as soon as possible.
  • Where fish are headed or gutted on board, this must be done hygienically as soon as possible and washed immediately afterwards.
  • Whole and gutted fresh fish may be transported in chilled seawater on board vessels.

During and After Landing

  • Unloading equipment that comes into contact with fishery products must be made of a material that is easy to clean and is in a good state of repair.
  • Unloading should be carried out rapidly to allow the fish to be chilled.
  • Equipment or practices should not cause unnecessary damage to the edible parts of the fish.

Factory and Fishing Vessels

Vessels that freeze fish on board and/or process fish (i.e. freezer and factory vessels) are considered to be 'approved premises' and are subject to a higher hygiene standard, requiring prior approval by a local authority before going to sea. They will be inspected periodically in accordance with the Food Hygiene risk assessment criteria.  The vessels are issued with a unique identification marking which must be shown in an approved format and placed on all packaging, the details of which are held centrally with the FSA. This is a specialist area of work that often includes foreign owned British Flagged ships.

ID: 2937, revised 29/06/2021