EU plans to ease regulations for dogfish imports

Helmut Nickel (mail), Shark Year Magazine,
02. February 2015

eu_squalus1The European Union is a major market for spiny dogfish that is used for human consumption. These dogfish products mainly originate from sustainable fisheries in North America.

But on many occasions, EU member states have repeatedly rejected these imports due to exceptionally high levels of non dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

In those cases, the PCB contaminants in the muscle meat of dogfish exceeded the legally allowed maximum level of 75 ng/g wet weight. You can find more details on some of the related EU border rejections and/or confiscations in our previously published post ‘European Food Safety Alerts for Shark Products’.

Now the EU Commission is considering to significantly increase the maximum level of non dioxin-like PCBs in wild caught spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias), allowing more imports to enter the European markets.

According to the proposed amendment, the current maximum level in muscle meat of wild caught spiny dogfish and products thereof shall be increased from 75 ng/g to 200 ng/g wet weight.
It is believed that such measures will not endanger the health of the consuming public.
For comparison, the current maximum level of non dioxin-like PCBs in wild caught eel (Anguilla anguilla) is even higher with 300 ng/g wet weight (source: EU, 2006).

The proposed amendment concerns only non dioxin-like PCBs (such as PCB # 28, 52, 101, 138, 153, 180), while the maximum levels of dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs for dogfish products will remain unchanged at 6,5 pg/g wet weight.

We were able to obtain the original text of the related Commission Proposal which is posted below.


of XXX

amending Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 as regards the maximum level of non dioxin-like PCBs in wild caught spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias)

(Text with EEA relevance)


Having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

Having regard to Council Regulation (EEC) No 315/93 of 8 February 1993 laying down Community procedures for contaminants in food1, and in particular Article 2(3) thereof,

(1) Commission Regulation (EC) No 1881/20062 sets maximum levels for dioxins, dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and non dioxin-like PCBs in fish and fishery products.

(2) Stakeholder associations provided data on the presence of non dioxin-like PCBs in wild caught spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias). From those data it can be observed that the current maximum level of 75 ng/g wet weight is not achievable on many occasions following good fishery practices under normal catch and growing conditions. The provided data demonstrate that the current maximum level is not in line with the principle that maximum levels for contaminants are set at a level as low as reasonably achievable. It is therefore appropriate to increase the current maximum level of non dioxin-like PCBs in wild caught spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias), without endangering public health.

(3) Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 should therefore be amended accordingly.

(4) The measures provided for in this Regulation are in accordance with the opinion of the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed,


Article 1
The Annex to Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 is amended in accordance with the Annex to this Regulation.

Article 2
This Regulation shall enter into force on the twentieth day following that of its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.

This Regulation shall be binding in its entirety and directly applicable in all Member States.

Done at Brussels,

For the Commission
The President
Jean-Claude JUNCKER


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