The law relating to the labelling of fish is governed by the Fish Labelling (England) Regulations 2010.
Provision of information
Those offering for retail sale to a final consumer the following products are required to provide certain information:
- live fish;
- fresh or chilled fish;
- frozen fish;
- fresh, chilled or frozen fish fillets and other fish meats including minced fish;
- dried or salted fish, fish in brine, smoked fish, flours, meals and pellets of fish, fit for human consumption;
- live, fresh, chilled, frozen, dried or salted crustaceans, crustaceans in brine, crustaceans in shell cooked by steaming or boiling, flours, meals and pellets of crustaceans, fit for human consumption;
- live, fresh, chilled, frozen, dried or salted molluscs or other aquatic invertebrates, molluscs or other aquatic invertebrates in brine, flours, meals and pellets of aquatic invertebrates, fit for human consumption.
The information which must be provided is as follows:
- the commercial designation of the species (i.e. the type of fish. A list containing the commercial designations is set out in the Regulations);
- the production method (farmed, caught at sea or in inland waters) unless it is obvious from the commercial designation and catch area that the species is caught at sea;
- the catch area.
In relation to products caught at sea the catch area will be one of the following:
- North-West Atlantic;
- North-East Atlantic;
- Baltic Sea;
- Central-Western Atlantic;
- Central-Eastern Atlantic;
- South-West Atlantic;
- South-East Atlantic;
- Mediterranean Sea;
- Black Sea;
- Indian Ocean;
- Pacific Ocean;
In the case of products caught in freshwater, the catch area will be the Member State or third country of origin of the product.
In the case of farmed products, the catch area will be the Member State or third country in which the product underwent the final development stage. Where a product is farmed in more than one Member State or third country the catch area may include the various Member States or third countries in which the product was farmed.
Operators are, however, permitted to indicate a more precise catch area if they so wish.
Where a combination of different species is offered for sale, the information must be provided for each of the species.
Where a combination consisting of the same species is offered for sale but derived from more than one production method, the method for each batch must be stated.
Where a combination consisting of the same species is offered for sale but derived from more than one catch area or country, the area of the batch which is most representative in terms of quantity must be stated, together with an indication that the products also come from different catch areas or countries.
Such information must be available at each stage of marketing of the species concerned and must be provided by way of the labelling or packaging of the product, or by means of accompanying documentation. The label, packaging or accompanying documentation must also state the scientific name of the species in question.
However, these requirements do not apply to small quantities of products disposed of directly to consumers by fishermen or aquaculture producers. “Small quantity” is defined by the Regulations as being products to a value not exceeding the sterling equivalent of 20 Euros for each purchase, converted by reference to the rate of conversion published annually on the first working day of the preceding September in the C series of the Official Journal of the European Communities or, if no rate is published in it on that day, the first rate published in it thereafter.
Failure to comply with the Regulations
Contravention of the Regulations is a criminal offence punishable by a fine.