Shellfish seized from Forth shore

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Five sacks of shellfish that had been illegally harvested from Edinburgh's foreshore have been seized.

Environmental health Officers and the police visited a site near Gypsy Brae, Cramond, on Thursday, 30 October.

They discovered a group of people in possession of five sacks of periwinkles, which were destined to be sold onto food retailers.

Recent analysis of shellfish from local waters had found potentially harmful bacteria to be present.

The shellfish were voluntarily surrendered by the group to the officers, who returned the periwinkles to the sea, and there were no charges.

This should serve as a strong warning that we will not hesitate to take swift action against those who illegally harvest shellfish for commercial purposes

Robert Aldridge
Edinburgh City

Harvesting shellfish for commercial purposes is only permitted from waters that meet certain quality standards.

None of the waters in the area currently meet that standard.

Robert Aldridge, Edinburgh City Council's environment leader, said: "Thanks to the vigilance and excellent joint action of council community safety staff and Lothian and Borders Police, we have managed to prevent this potentially contaminated shellfish from ending up on unsuspecting consumers' plates.

"This should serve as a strong warning that we will not hesitate to take swift action against those who illegally harvest shellfish for commercial purposes."

He warned local food retailers to be aware that suppliers of shellfish must be able to produce adequate documentation which clearly identifies the harvesting location, and that the area has been approved by the appropriate local authority.

Face fines

Anyone found harvesting shellfish from non-approved areas for commercial purposes risks prosecution under the Food Safety Act 1990, with fines up to 5,000 and/or six months' imprisonment.

Pc Steve Neill, of Lothian and Borders Police safer communities department, said: "This has been a problem affecting coastal locations around the country in recent months, so we are pleased we've managed to stop illegal shellfish being harvested in the foreshore of Edinburgh before there was any risk to the public.

"We will remain vigilant with regards to this activity, and anyone caught breaking the law will be dealt with robustly."

An Edinburgh City Council spokeswoman said: "The people involved in this incident were unaware that they were committing an offence.

"In this instance, they were given a warning under food safety legislation.

"However, any repeat offence by these individuals will result in a report to the procurator fiscal and could therefore result in a 5,000 fine and/or six months' imprisonment."



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