Human Waste Containment Receptacle Requirements Q & A

Under the Canadian Shellfish Sanitation Program (CSSP), the Government of Canada implements controls to verify that only shellfish that meet food safety and quality standards reach domestic and international markets. Chapter 4.3 of the CSSP - Manual of Operations requires measures to be in place to prevent contamination of shellfish by human waste during shellfish harvesting.

The information below can be used by shellfish processors and harvesters to support on-board waste containment measures.

Why is it important to control human waste discharge from shellfish harvesting and maintenance vessels?

  • Human waste (i.e. feces, vomit) may contain harmful bacteria (e.g. Shigella, Vibrio, and Salmonella) and/or viruses (e.g. norovirus and hepatitis A virus) that can cause illness or disease in humans.
  • Disposal of human waste into or near shellfish harvesting areas can contaminate the water with these disease-causing microorganisms and lead to shellfish contamination.
  • Consumption of contaminated shellfish can cause illness ranging from mild gastroenteritis to typhoid fever and infectious hepatitis.
  • Outbreaks associated with contaminated shellfish may lead to closure of shellfish harvest areas and market access.
  • Closure of contaminated shellfish harvest areas and loss of market access may lead to income loss for those earning a living from shellfish.

What are the requirements for human waste containment receptacles on harvesting and maintenance vessels?

  • Chapter 4.3 of the CSSP - Manual of Operations requires measures to be in place to prevent contamination of shellfish by human waste during shellfish harvesting or maintenance activities.
  • The disposal of raw sewage such as human waste into or within three nautical miles of shore is prohibited under the Vessel Pollution and Dangerous Goods Regulations, Section 96, sub-section 1, sub-sub-section (e) (ii).
  • The province of British Columbia requires vessels to be equipped with a dedicated human waste receptacle as a condition of their shellfish aquaculture licence.

What does the Government of Canada recommend shellfish harvesters do to prevent human waste from contaminating shellfish harvesting areas?

  • Shellfish harvesting and maintenance vessels should be equipped with a dedicated human waste containment receptacle that can be tightly sealed.
  • Designated human waste receptacles should be used only for storing human waste.
  • Waste receptacles should be emptied into an approved sewage disposal system after returning to shore and cleaned afterwards.
  • Good sanitary practices should be followed. Hands should be washed after using on-board facilities and after waste receptacles are emptied.
  • Harvesters are reminded not to dump human waste into or near shellfish harvesting areas, or within three nautical miles of shore.

What is a dedicated human waste containment receptacle?

  • A dedicated human waste containment receptacle is any container with a tight fitting lid that is used only for storing human waste. Some examples of human waste containment receptacles could include a fixed toilet with a holding tank, a portable toilet, or even a bucket with a tight fitting lid made from an impervious, cleanable material.

How can shellfish processors ensure that all shellfish purchased are safe and are harvested using good sanitary practices?

  • Develop and maintain a list of acceptable harvesters that have met the CSSP requirements, and have a monitoring system in place as part of the facility's Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan to ensure only product from these approved suppliers are received.
  • Establish Supplier Quality Assurance (SQA) agreements for incoming shellfish with harvesters to ensure they are meeting the Canadian Shellfish Sanitation Program (CSSP) requirements.
  • Conduct onsite verification of the SQA at least once a year to ensure that SQA procedures are followed.
  • Incorporate HACCP verification activities at the harvest site to ensure that harvesters meet the CSSP requirements.

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