Maine Well Represented at ISSC
Ginny Olsen from Oceanville seafood in Stonington in Stonington attended this year's conference and provided the following report.
September 27, 2007
SOURCE: Ginny Olsen
Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference (ISSC), Albuquerque, New Mexico
I have returned from my trip to the ISSC where we discussed over 80 proposals covering 657 pages of text. The conference went very well this year. There were approximately 227 members in attendance coming from every state in the US including foreign countries, Republic of South China, Netherlands, New Zealand, and Canada. Out of the conference came numerous changes however, I am comfortable saying Maine should be able to adhere to these changes without putting a major economic burden onto industry.
Before I go any further I need to thank all of the folks that donated funds for me to travel to the ISSC. It is such an important meeting and besides Lori Howell, from Spinney Creek Shellfish in Elliot, ME who depurates clams I was the only other industry member from Maine. Many of the regulations are proposed are based on Oyster harvesting, and the processing, labeling and shipping of raw product. In Maine we harvest our Soft Shell Clams different than most other places and other species of shellfish. I can not say enough about how willing the ISSC membership is to including folks and their harvesting needs if you are present to work with them. I would not have been able to attend this conference if it was not for the financial support of my community. This is a very expensive conference to attend with a $550.00 conference and membership fee, 9 days in a motel, airline tickets, and meals for 9 days. Again I would like to thank all of the people and businesses that helped to send me to this conference to represent Deer Isle and Stonington, ME.
At the conference I gave a presentation on our re-seeding work and problems the coast of Maine is having with Mussel Draggers towing through conservation areas. After my presentation I was invited to give another presentation at the International Shellfish Restoration Conference (ISRC) in the Netherlands during November of this year. I am looking into some funding options to get there, but what an opportunity!
I submitted a proposal for the exemption of Marine Sanitary Devices (MSD) which are portable toilets in skiffs and canoes; basically if you were using your vessel for transportation you don't need a MSD. There was another proposal very similar to mine, so we worked it out together. Now the state has the authority to enforce the MSD as they see fit to ensure public health. For Maine we have a 6 hour maximum time in use to be exempt from the MSD. Patrol will be issuing summons and/or confiscating the contaminated shellfish if any harvester is going to the bathroom on the flats or dumps fecal matter into the water.
Viral testing was a topic Maine watched very closely. Waters along the coast that have sewage treatment plant facilities expose the shellfish to viruses. Doing a viral test, which is done with the meat of the shellfish not the water, will show the presence of viruses such as Norwalk, Hepatitis B and many others. When a sewage treatment plant discharges overflow there are automatic closures to harvesting placed around the discharge pipe. These closures are for 21 days. It is said that by using the viral test we may be able to open these closed areas quicker. Maine is worried that in our colder waters shellfish will not self depurate the viruses out quicker and in fact it might take longer and expand closure lines. Maine wants research done to find out what normal background levels we have now and what viral level poses a public health risk. One of the two viral proposals at this years conference were passed- The Washington issue was passed as a tool to help them and not mandated for every state. DMR will not be using this viral tool until we have more science and background levels (2009 Biennial ISSC, viral proposals will be discussed again). The Male Specific Coliphage (MSC) viral indicator proposal was sent to committee with a working group to do science on the indicator and background levels for the next conference in 2009. After talking with DMR and industry at the conference I am very comfortable about where we are with virals. I also got the chance to speak with some representatives from ARmark. This company has a product that can be used with sewage treatment plants to remove bacteria and virals from waste water discharge. The cost would be estimated around $30,000.00 per plant. I have spoken with them about coming to Maine and doing a presentation, which they would be happy to do. I have also made the connection for them to work with DMR to validate and explain the process. I thought this was very promising. The work this company does with traceability of product is amazing!
There was a lot of talk about water sampling from boats- and problems that states are having with the classification from the boat being different than the classification on shore. The sample from the boat shows the waters open however, the shore front samples of shellfish show unacceptable levels of pathogens which would change the classification to closed for harvesting.
Proposals covering wet storage were passed to help with dating for consumers without loosing traceability. A proposal that would require dealers that process shellfish to put the cove on the label was voted "no action" which was good- because the cost to industry would have been great when the cheapest printer that has these capabilities is $2800.00.
There is going to be a new record keeping requirement for dealers who receive shellfish from other dealers. The product that has been shipped must have an ambient air temperature of 45◦F or internal temperature of 50◦F or less, or be shipped in adequate ice. This is a current regulation for Maine but we have not recorded the temperature before. We had a lot of discussion around product coming in at a higher temperature and what to do. It is totally acceptable for dealers to receive product at a higher temperature but a corrective action report must be written and filed for how you evaluated the product, and what you did to cool it. Changes to Harvester Tagging were passed. When recording the time of harvest you will be using the time you STARTED harvesting NOT the time you finish. The Time Matrix Chart was changed. This chart gives us the maximum time shellfish can be exposed before they have to be in a temperature controlled setting. Currently we have Level 1- 36 hours from harvest to Temperature Control at 66◦F or less - No Changes. Level 2- 66◦F to 80◦F you will have 10 hours, changed from 12, to have harvest to Temperature Control, and Level 3- 81◦F or greater you will have 8 hours, changed from 10, to have harvest to Temperature Control. Dealers will need to add the consumer advisory to all fresh and frozen shucked products. Which will read: “Consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish, or eggs may increase your risk of foodborne illness, especially if you have certain medical conditions.”
Oyster Gardens was a hot topic at the conference. States will now require Oyster Gardeners to register or be permitted so they can be notified of water quality and bio toxin events along with educational material about what water quality is public health items, and the danger of their product reaching the market.
So much more happened... But these proposals are the ones that affect us the most.
If anyone has any questions please email me I would be happy to go over anything-
534 Oceanville Rd.
Stonington, ME 04681
P 207-367-5871 F 207-367-5872