In accordance with Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/627 before classifying a bivalve mollusc production area the competent authorities must carry out a sanitary survey. Each survey must include the following:
- An inventory of the sources of human and animal pollution
- An examination of the seasonal variation in sources and quantities of organic pollutants
- A determination of how these are likely to circulate in the production area
Based on the results of the sanitary survey the competent authority will then establish a monitoring programme/sampling plan for each bivalve mollusc production area. This programme sets out the geographical location of the sampling points within the bivalve mollusc production area and the frequency with which they should be sampled. The programme is so designed that the results of the monitoring will be representative of the production area.
The actual surveys contain most of the following elements:
- Desk-top survey – data gathering
- Shoreline survey – physical site inspection
- Bacteriological survey – can include shellfish and water sampling
- Overall assessment
- Monitoring programme/sampling plan
Information used in the generation of each survey is garnered from many different sources including existing published data, data already held by the Authority, discussions with other government agencies and discussions with members of the shellfish industry. A physical site visit to each production area is carried out by Authority staff and where possible the whole production area is surveyed in order to detail any sources of human and animal pollution. Authority staff may also carry out water sampling of discharges, streams and drains in order to assess levels of organic pollutants reaching the production area. In addition Authority staff may take shellfish samples from various locations within the production area in order to examine levels of organic pollutants impacting the shellfish themselves. It is the combination of this physical shoreline data with that of the initial desktop study that allows the Authority to conclude the sanitary survey for each individual production area and to generate the subsequent monitoring programme/sampling plan.