Vessel Inspections

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