Types of Classification

Photo showing posted sign with shellfish classification. Photo credit - Yves Lamontagne, MWQM Quebec.

The CSSP recognizes five main categories of classification:

  • Approved- The area has been approved by the shellfish control authority for growing or harvesting shellfish for direct marketing.The area is not contaminated with fecal material, pathogenic micro-organisms, or poisonous or deleterious substances to the extent that consumption of the shellfish might be hazardous; and the median or geometric mean fecal coliform Most Probable Number (MPN) of the water does not exceed 14/100 ml, and not more than 10% of the sample exceed a fecal coliform MPN of 43/100 ml, for a five-tube decimal dilution test.
  • Conditionally Approved - The area meets the criteria for the approved classification except under conditions which are easily identified, predictable and/or controllable.
  • Restricted - The area is contaminated with fecal material, pathogenic micro-organisms, or poisonous or deleterious substances to the extent that consumption of the shellfish might be hazardous. No shellfish shall be taken from these areas except by licence (Fisheries and Oceans) for further treatment such as depuration (controlled purification), harvesting for natural relaying or scientific experimental purposes.
  • Conditionally Restricted – The area meets the criteria for the restricted classification except under conditions which are easily identified, predictable and/or controllable.
  • Prohibited - No shellfish may be harvested from these areas for any purpose, with the exception of seed and spat which may be collected under license. Such areas include the immediate vicinity of source discharges of sewage and industrial outfalls.

The status of the area describes whether shellfish harvest is permitted and is independent of the classification of the area. For example an Approved area may be closed temporarily due to unacceptable levels of biotoxins in shellstock (monitored by CFIA).

For more specific information please refer to the Canadian Shellfish Sanitation Program (CSSP) Manual of Operations.

Did You Know

Biotoxins in shellfish are monitored by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. An Approved area may be closed temporarily due to unacceptable levels of biotoxins (e.g. PSP - paralytic shellfish poison) in shellfish.