A new mapping application is now available on the Irish Shellfish Biotoxin and Phytoplankton website. Managed by the Marine Institute, the website provides the latest information on shellfish safety data for shellfish producers, food business operators and consumers.
The Marine Institute monitors Irish coastal waters for the presence of toxin producing phytoplankton and to assess and ensure the safety of shellfish for consumer markets. The programme is designed to detect toxicity before shellfish are harvested from the water to ensure only the highest quality shellfish reach the market.
The new mapping application visualises the biotoxin status of all classified production areas in Ireland by shellfish species. Users can view which production areas are 'Open' or 'Closed' and zoom in to the map to receive more information on the species and the date the status was applied. From the map, users can also click in to view a webpage for each production area which includes more details on the latest status, samples currently being analysed, and a graph of the toxin and phytoplankton results over the past 20 week period.
Joe Silke, Director of Marine Environment and Food Safety Services at the Marine Institute said, "Our shellfish safety programme relies on providing immediate results to the industry to allow them to harvest their product and place it on the market without delay. This new website service improves the efficiency of our monitoring services and facilitates our role in assuring seafood safety more effectively and in a shorter timeframe."
The Marine Institute provides a weekly monitoring service year round, which assesses over 100 inshore shellfish production sites and offshore fishing grounds as part of these programmes. The work is carried out in close cooperation with the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) with strong industry collaboration as part of national official controls on seafood safety. In 2018, around 3,400 shellfish samples were collected and 15,900 analyses completed. In addition, some 3,500 seawater samples were analysed for toxic and harmful phytoplankton species in 2018.
The new mapping application in The Irish Shellfish Biotoxin and Phytoplankton website is based on Ireland's Digital Ocean platform. The online platform provides access to a range of data services including online maps, dashboards, search functions and publications.