TRACEABILITY AND LABELING OF FISH PRODUCTS

Traceability

National and European legislation, as part of the control system established under Regulations (EC) n. 1224/2009 and n. 404/2011, regulate the traceability of fish products, particularly from the capture to the first sale, through production and transfer of data between the different supply chain actors in order to define a valid traceability system that allows the flow of information to follow the product up to the retail selling stage.

Each operator in the fishing industry has an obligation to comply, for their part of the responsibility, with the provisions laid down by law.

Pursuant to Title IV of EU Regulation n. 1224/2009, the captains of vessels of overall length equal or longer than 10 meters and less than 12 meters must fill in the fishing logbook, the landing declaration and - if approved - the transhipment declaration in paper format, using the form prescribed in Annex VI to Regulation (EU) n. 404/2011 (Circular letter n. 19490 dated 31st July 2012), which must be submitted, within 48 hours from disembarkation, to the Coast Guard Office of the place of docking in two copies. The Coast Guard will retain a copy of what was delivered by the captain or his delegate for the subsequent insertion of data into the web portal SIAN, and will stamp and sign the remaining copy as receipt of delivery.

The captains of fishing boats of overall length or longer than 12 meters must fill in the electronic logbook, landing declaration and - if approved - the transhipment declaration, using electronic devices provided and the specially designed software. In particular, the electronic fishing logbook data must be transmitted at least once a day (before 12.a.m.), at the request of the competent authority of the flag Member State and in any case after the conclusion of the last fishing operation and before entering into the port.

The captain of a fishing boat must fill in the transhipment declaration - if authorized - and send it within 24 hours of the completion of transhipment operations.

The captain of a fishing boat (or his delegate) must complete the landing declaration and send it within 24 hours of completion of the disembarking operation.

As required by Ministerial Decree dated 1st March 2012 and pursuant to art. 15, paragraph 4, art. 22, paragraph 3, and art. 24, paragraph 3, vessels of less than 15m and overall length equal to or longer than 12 meters - upon presentation of the specific declaration provided for in the mentioned Ministerial Decree - are exempt from the requirements for preparation and electronic transmission of data, respectively, of the fishing logbook, transhipment declaration and landing declaration provided for, The boats that take the option of being exempt from the requirements of art. 15, paragraph 4, art. 22, paragraph 3, and art. 24, paragraph 3, are required to fill out paper forms of the fishing logbook, transhipment declaration and landing declaration in the manner prescribed by the regulations.

If the boats that take the option of being exempt from the requirements of art. 15, paragraph 4, art. 22, paragraph 3, and art. 24, paragraph 3, decide later to meet the obligations of transmission of ships documents electronically, they can be provided with a tablet pc, owned by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry according to the availability of stocks (while stocks last).

Obligations for dealers. Registration of operators.

Pursuant to art. 59 of Regulation (EC) n. 1224/2009 buyers in the first sale of fishery products and the people who take charge of the product for the subsequent sale must be registered.

Pursuant to art. 114 of Regulation (EC) n. 1224/2009, website controls www.controllopesca.politicheagricole.it has been established, where it is possible to access the user registration process and subsequently the data transmission procedures specified below. In order to facilitate access to computerized procedures, the site has a FAQ session and the contact they can get in touch with for information about the requirements to be satisfied. In addition, in order to facilitate data entry, subsequent to registration, manuals on data management by operators have been published on the website of MAFFP.

For the purpose of the first placing on the market, fishery products must be sold only to registered operators. The buyers of fishery products weighing no more than 30kg that are not subsequently placed on the market, are exempt from the registration requirements but are exclusively for private consumption.

Labelling

Fresh, chilled and frozen fisheries products placed in retail sale for final consumption must necessarily be labelled with the following information: 

  • trade name of the species;
  • scientific name of the species (from 1st January 2012 indicating the scientific name is mandatory. It is not compulsory to indicate it on the label or placard on sale because art. 68, par. 2, of Regulation n. 404/2011 allows to indicate it through business information such as billboards or posters);
  • production method (caught, caught in freshwater or farmed);
  • catch area / country of rearing.

For the product caught, also the FAO area can be indicated, but the ex planatory table must be exhibited. If the product is frozen, it must be expressly indicated, with reference to the prohibition of refreezing (freezing is a process that takes place on an industrial level, because it involves reaching such a temperature that the appropriate machineries are needed, congelation instead of freezing is a "homemade " process, which can be done in the freezer of any kitchen).

Example of correct labelling: hake caught in the Mediterranean Sea - sea bream reared in Greece.

Restaurants are assimilated to the final consumer (the buyer), so do not have to label any product displayed but keep supporting documents of the purchase, to ensure the traceability and safety of provenance from sources that are not - for example - sport fishing.

A prepared fishery product already subjected to cooking (processed) is considered to be excluded from the scope of Regulation n. 104/2000: information required by this regulation is not necessary and the labelling can report as ingredient the denomination "fish", as envisaged by the already mentioned Legislative Decree n. 109/1992, followed by the percentage, if the ingredient "fish" is a characterizing ingredient highlighted (e.g. name "fish cakes", "fish sticks"). The above exclusion also covers fisheries products "otherwise prepared or preserved by processes other than those provided for in Chapter 3 of the Combined Nomenclature". In the case of prepared fishery products, for example, cuts, filleted or minced, even if combined with other ingredients not subject to processing treatments but only preserved by cold (chilled or frozen), are under the codes of the Combined Nomenclature cited by Reg. n. 104/2000. In this case the mentioned regulation is applied with the consequent obligation to report on the labels as an ingredient, rather than the generic indication of the category "fish", the name of the fish species, the method of production (fishing or farming) and the catch area.​