This study explored the possibility of modelling of Zones of Significant Equivalence (ZSEs) to the Scottish Scallop harvesting activity. If no significant differences were observed between two areas with regard to the domoic acid content of the scallops within them, then it was considered appropriate to treat them as the same area. ZSEs were defined on a range of parameters including DA levels; geographical location; mean depth and percentage land mass in box.
The available datasets were also analysed to determine both the duration of box closures in the past, the robustness of the data underpinning this and the possibility of applying this data to the ZSE approach to define sampling frequency and sampling area after closure.
Under EU Directive 91/492/EEC, FSA Scotland required offshore king scallops to be monitored for the algal toxin domoic acid (DA). At the time of this study, EU legislation required offshore scallop fishing grounds (offshore boxes) to be closed by FSAS when levels of DA in whole king scallops exceeded 20 mg/kg. In contrast, the new food hygiene regulations that came into effect in 2006 place a greater burden on end-product testing rather than monitoring. The aim of this project was to allow FSAS to develop a risk based approach to offshore monitoring and also to inform suitable sampling frequencies for industry end product testing.
At the time of the study, the offshore monitoring system was based around sub-division of offshore boxes and there was therefore scope for changing the box size (and or shape) to improve efficiency and reduce monitoring costs. The possibility of targeting sampling to periods when there was a good probability that levels had fallen below the regulatory limits was also investigated to offer a more cost-effective programme.
In this study, historical monitoring data was used to determine trends in DA levels in king scallops harvested in offshore areas, and to conduct a critical risk/benefit analysis of modifying the monitoring regime. This study was conducted in parallel with FSAS-funded project S02019, which employed an alternative risk assessment of the Scottish offshore monitoring programme for DA in king scallops.
<p>Find more about this project and other FSA food safety-related projects at the <a href="http://www.food.gov.uk/science/research/" target="_blank">Food Standards Agency Research webpage</a>.