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Harvesting of shellfish

Some species of shellfish (live bivalve molluscs), such as oysters, mussels, cockles etc., are filter feeders and accumulate sewage contamination and toxins from the water around them therefore their consumption may cause illness.

To control the risk of illness, live bivalve molluscs being placed on the market for human consumption must originate from a classified production area.

Areas are classified per species according to the degree of contamination, based on monitoring of faecal contamination in the shellfish. Only shellfish from Class A waters can be placed on the market directly.

An annual list of classified areas is published by Food Standards Scotland covering the period 1st April to 31st March the following year and is divided by local authority area and provides all the current shellfish harvesting production area details.

South Ayrshire Council sample our classified production area, to ensure levels of bacteria and algal toxins are safe. Temporary closure notices, prohibiting the harvesting of shellfish, are served where results reveal a risk to public health.

Please find below the web link to the latest weekly Biotoxin, Phytoplankton and E. coli results which are published every week on the FSS website.

FSS Official Control shellfish monitoring results can also be found at:


Areas currently classified in South Ayrshire can be found on the Live Scottish Shellfish Classification Document on the FSS website:

Publications | Food Standards Scotland

Shellfish Traceability

To ensure traceability of the product, a registration document requires to accompany each batch of live shellfish during transportation from the production area to the dispatch or purification centre.

Please contact us for registration documents if you wish to gather shellfish from a classified production area within South Ayrshire.

All shellfish leaving an approved dispatch or purification centre must be labelled with an identification mark, which includes their unique approval number, before being placed on the market for human consumption.