Overview – Seafood

Use this as a guide to requirements for growing, harvesting, processing, storing and selling seafood, and the pages in this section. If you’re new, start here.

What is seafood

Seafood is fish and fish material. It includes finfish, crustaceans, cephalopods, echinoderms, molluscs and gastropods.

What are Bivalve Molluscan Shellfish (BMS)

BMS have a shell in two hinged halves or valves. They include clams, cockles, geoducks, mussels, oysters, pipis, scallops and tuatuas. BMS have unique food safety requirements and therefore are covered seperately.

Meeting requirements

All seafood businesses must meet legal requirements. The requirements that apply to your business depend what you are doing. Read the pages relevant to your business to find out the specific requirements. Here is a brief summary.

Road Map Seafood Legislation (274 KB PDF)


  • Animal Products Act 1999
  • Food Act 2014, which means you must comply with the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, and that some businesses have Food Control Plans (FCP) or comply with the Food Hygiene Regulations 1974.

Operating under the Food Act

Rules for food businesses are changing – we're moving from the Food Act 1981 to the Food Act 2014. From 1 March 2016, all new businesses must operate under the Food Act.

Existing businesses (registered under the Food Act 1981 or Food Hygiene Regulations 1974 before 29 February 2016) will shift to the new Act between 2016 and 2019. Check the timetable to find out when your type of business has to transition.

The following legislation is related to the Animal Products Act 1999.

  • Animal Products Regulations 2000
  • Animal Products (Regulated Control Scheme – Bivalve Molluscan Shellfish) Regulations 2006
  • Animal Products (Regulated Control Scheme – Limited Processing Fishing Vessels) Regulations 2001
  • Animal Products (Regulated Control Scheme – Contaminant Monitoring and Surveillance) Regulations 2004
  • Animal Products (Exemptions and Inclusions) Order 2000
  • Animal Products (Specifications for Products Intended for Human Consumption) Notice
  • Animal Products (Specifications for Products Intended for Animal Consumption) Notice 2014
  • Animal Products (Contaminants Monitoring and Surveillance) Notice
  • Animal Products (Definition of Primary Processor) Notice 2000
  • Animal Products (Specifications for Limited Processing Fishing Vessels) Notice 2005
  • Animal Products (Specifications for Bivalve Molluscan Shellfish) Notice 2006

Regulated Control Schemes (RCS)

Some seafood businesses must comply with an RCS. These include:

  • Limited Processing Fishing Vessels (LPFVs)
  • BMS growers, harvesters and operators

Risk Management Programmes (RMPs)

Many businesses operate under RMPs. Some businesses find it more efficient to implement these using industry-agreed Codes of Practice (COPs).

  • Processing of Seafood Products COP
  • Rendering COP
  • Cold and dry stores COP
  • Further processing COP

Seafood guidelines

Seafood guidelines are developed to help seafood operators manage some specific seafood-related activities or risks. Seafood operators have the option of adopting all, some or none of the guidelines.

The Listeria guideline for example, describes the potential problem areas in fish processing operations and how operators can minimise Listeria contamination.

These guidelines are developed by the New Zealand Seafood Standards Council, in consultation with MPI and the seafood industry.

What you will find here

The Seafood section of the site is split into various sub-sections. Use the menu on the left to find your way around.

You can find detailed information about requirements that apply to you in the following sub-sections:

Seafood processing and farming – gives information for different kinds of seafood operations including farmers, renderers for animal consumption, land-based processors and those who process fish and fish products at sea, including Limited Processing Fishing Vessels (LPFVs) which can operate under a Regulated Control Scheme (RCS).

Bivalve molluscan shellfish (BMS) growing, harvesting and processing – provides information for growers, harvesters, processors and operators of BMS businesses, including the BMS Regulated Control Scheme (BMS RCS).

Animal material depots for seafood– describes the requirements for depots that hold fish or BMS.

Exporting seafood – outlines requirements specific to seafood businesses including labelling of fish, listing for exporting to certain markets and how animal material depots and inshore vessels meet export requirements.

Managing risk – provides information specific to seafood businesses – who needs a Risk Management Plan (RMP), how Codes of Practice (COPs) support a successful RMP and whether you can have an Food Control Plan (FCP) or operate under the Food Hygiene Regulations instead.

Fish names labelling – find out the requirements for labelling fish with the correct name for the New Zealand market or for export markets.

Seafood stores (cold & dry) – gives information about the specific requirements for storage control of seafood.

Further sub-sections provide more generic information relevant to seafood:

  • Fees & charges – Familiarise yourself with any service-related costs you may be required to pay to MPI.
  • Registers & lists – Get a ccess to registers & lists including Bivalve Molluscan Shellfish (BMS) related operators, lists of fish names, shellfish growing areas and related acitivites, Limited Processing Fishing Vessels (LPFVs) and businesses listed for processing seafood for specific markets.
  • Documents – Find a full list of documents relating to Seafood.
  • What’s new – Check this page regularly for important updates relevant to Seafood.

Related information

Requirements specific to Seafood are contained in this section, but make sure you also refer to general food safety requirements you may need to comply with.

General requirements & programmes

Keeping up to date

It’s important to keep up to date with any new or revised Seafood information, including requirements, consultations, strategies and other content changes. There are different ways to keep up to date – choose the methods that work best for you:

  • What’s new – Click on What’s new in the left-hand menu to read the most recent updates to Seafood.
  • Get emails – Sign up to receive the latest MPI news by email. Click on the Get emails link at the bottom of any page to sign-up for email notifications.
  • Subscribe to feeds – Sign-up to receive news feeds. Click on the Subscribe to feeds link the bottom of any page to add to your list of news feeds.

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