Blue mussels and scallops dominate the industry, although harvesting of oysters, clams and cockles also occurs. Blue mussels are mainly harvested from aquaculture sites, while scallops, oysters, clams and cockles are mainly harvested from stocks in the wild.
The Norwegian Food Safety Authority monitors the production and harvesting of live bivalve molluscs. Monitoring is based on applicable hygiene legislation, and is in compliance with the EEA –agreement and in particular Regulation (EC) no. 854/2004.
Each year, samples are taken from production sites along the Norwegian coast. The sampling data are used to monitor the presence of toxin-producing algae and marine biotoxins in molluscs, as well as the presence of biological and chemical contaminants in harvesting areas. Sites for sampling may change from year to year.
When harvesting, producers are also sampling for analysis of toxin producing algae and marine biotoxins to supplement the monitoring carried out by the competent authority. The competent authority evaluates the data from both the monitoring programme and from producers before a production site or harvesting area is opened for harvesting.
The Norwegian Food Safety Authority classifies production sites for live bivalve molluscs into A, B and C areas, in compliance with Regulation (EC) no. 854/2004.
If excessive levels of chemical or biological contaminants are discovered in farmed shellfish, the product is withheld from the market and the source of the pollutant ascertained and removed if possible. If necessary, molluscs have to undergo treatment according to Regulation (EC) no 853/2004 for the end products to meet the given hygiene criteria.
Information regarding gathering for own consumption
Based on the data from the monitoring programme, the Food Safety Authority issues advice regarding the gathering of molluscs for own consumption along the Norwegian coast. This advice includes information about areas where there is a risk of finding high levels of marine biotoxins in bivalve molluscs. The information is updated weekly.