Development of a Sampling Programme and Measurement of Contaminants in Food for Marine Strategy Framework Directive Descriptor 9

Data Type: 
Marine Scotland Data Portal

Scottish Marine and Freshwater Science Vol 5 No 15

Descriptor 9 (contaminants in food) is one of eleven Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) qualitative Descriptors to be used in determining whether Good Environmental Status (GES) has been achieved for European regional seas (Directive EC/2008/56). For monitoring of compliance with GES for Descriptor 9, contaminant concentrations in fish and seafood should be compared against the EC regulatory levels. The fish and shellfish contaminant monitoring currently undertaken in Scotland was reviewed. Monitoring programmes include the UK Clean Seas Environment Monitoring Programme (CSEMP) undertaken by Marine Scotland Science (MSS) and Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), and the annual surveys of contaminants in shellfish from commercial harvesting areas undertaken by Food Standards Agency for Scotland (FSAS). The suitability of these activities in addressing the requirements of Descriptor 9 was assessed. CSEMP is the main UK monitoring programme for contaminants in fish and, in Scotland, is undertaken by MSS. However, as most fish data are for liver tissue of small flatfish they are of limited use for assessing progress towards GES under Descriptor 9, as in the UK fish liver is not generally consumed. For CSEMP, trace metals are determined in fish muscle and liver, and PCBs in fish liver only. Regulatory levels are available for metals, dioxins and PCBs in fish muscle. However, only metals are analysed in fish muscle as part of UK CSEMP. PCBs and dioxins are not measured in fish muscle as this is not a requirement of the OSPAR Coordinated Environmental Monitoring Programme (CEMP) for the NE Atlantic. Monitoring of shellfish in Scotland is mainly undertaken by FSAS and SEPA. Mussel samples are collected by SEPA to assess compliance with the Water Framework Directive (WFD; 2000/60/EC) and its daughter Directive on Environmental Quality Standards (EQSD; 2008/105/EC) following the repeal of the Dangerous Substances Directive (DSD; 2006/11/EC) in December 2013; samples are analysed for PCBs, PAHs and trace metals, but not dioxins. FSAS undertake contaminant (includes trace metals, PAHs, PCBs and dioxins) monitoring in shellfish or the Shellfish Hygiene Directive (79/923/EEC). Both SEPA and FSAS shellfish contaminant data could be used for Descriptor 9 assessments, although currently FSAS data is not submitted to the UK Marine Environment Monitoring and Assessment National database (MERMAN).