EU member states are required to monitor both the presence and geographic distribution of marine biotoxin-producing phytoplankton in shellfish harvesting areas. Monitoring these phytoplankton species benefits human health by preventing contaminated shellfish entering the food chain. It also reduces costs for the shellfish industry, as harvesting can be avoided when potentially toxic species are present.
In Scotland, phytoplankton monitoring has been carried out by SRSL on behalf of the Scottish food industry since September 2005. SRSL is accredited for Toxic Phytoplankton Monitoring by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) to comply with the International Standard.
Water samples are collected from designated shellfish growing areas around the Scottish coast and analysed by light microscopy, for seven potentially toxic genera or species of phytoplankton.
The monitoring that SRSL undertakes is vitally important since the Scottish shellfish farming industry is worth £10.5 million at first sale value to the Scottish economy (Scottish Government statistics). In addition, much of the aquaculture production is focussed on the West and North of the country and supports remote and rural communities in those areas.
Please contact SRSL for related consultancy services and Toxic Phytoplankton Monitoring programme development.