To sell your seafood on the European market, you need to comply with European market access requirements. These requirements can vary from Europe-wide legislation to common buyer preferences.

Legal requirements

The most important European legislation you must comply with is on Food Safety and Hygiene. It aims to ensure the quality of food products throughout the whole supply chain. Implementing food management principles and subjecting food products to official controls are important aspects of this process.

To ensure food safety, food products must be traceable throughout the entire supply chain. These traceability rules are especially strict for seafood, requiring labels with precise information on harvesting and production. These labels should allow consumers to select seafood harvested with more sustainable methods and from specific sources.

Only seafood from authorised countries like Ghana is allowed onto the European market, accompanied by a health certificate. It must be caught by approved vessels or produced in registered farms. The products must be dispatched from and obtained or prepared in approved establishments.

Related to food safety and hygiene are the legal limits for Food Contaminants that you cannot exceed. Common contaminants in seafood include lead, cadmium, mercury, dioxins, PCP and PAHs. Microbiological contamination can also pose problems, like high histamine levels.

Complying with these legal requirements is key, because unsafe or incorrectly labelled products are banned from entering the European market!

Additional requirements

In addition to legislation, European buyers often have non-legal requirements. A common additional requirement is Food Safety Certification. The most popular food safety certification schemes for seafood products are IFS and BRC, especially in Northern and Western Europe. Meeting these additional requirements isn’t mandatory, but can increase your chances on the market considerably.

Niche market requirements

If you can supply eco-labelled seafood products, this mainly Northern and Western European niche market may provide interesting opportunities. For wild-caught fishery products, MSC is the main certification scheme. ASC is the most important certification scheme for aquaculture seafood products.

Want to know more?

Would you like to know more about European market access requirements for fish and seafood? You can read all about them in CBI’s What requirements do fish and seafood products have to comply with to be allowed on the European market?, including tips, guidance documents and helpdesk information!

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