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Wellboats and Treatment Vessels – Fish Health Approval & Cleaning and Disinfection Requirements

Wellboats and Treatment Vessels – Fish Health Approval

Wellboats and treatment vessels are required to obtain Fish Health Approval (FHA) from the Marine Institute before operating in Ireland in accordance with Article 4(e) of Regulation (EU) 2020/691.   The FHA Application form can be downloaded HERE.  

Wellboats and Treatment Vessels – Cleaning and Disinfection Requirements

Cleaning and disinfection requirements for wellboats and treatment vessels operating in Ireland have been revised by the Marine Institute. These requirements have been informed by an independent disease risk analysis for the use of wellboats and treatment vessels within the Irish aquaculture industry. The risk analysis was undertaken by PHARMAQ Analytic Ireland for the Marine Institute in November 2023.

The 3 Stages of Cleaning and Disinfection for approved wellboats and treatment vessels operating Ireland are as follows. 

  • Stage 1 - Cleaning
  • Stage 2 - Cleaning & Disinfection
  • Stage 3 - Cleaning & Disinfection – including . hull below water line.

The appropriate procedure including specific secanrios that require Stage 1-3 Cleaning and Disinfection are further detailed by each stage here below. The required documentation that applies to each stage is also listed for reference.  

NOTE: A Cleaning & Disinfection Declaration Form must be completed and submitted to the Marine Institute when Stage 3 Cleaning and Disinfection is required and prior to the vessel commencing work in Ireland. The Marine Institute Cleaning and Disinfection Declaration Form can be downloaded from HERE and can be  submitted by email to notification@marine.ie prior to the vessel commencing work in Ireland. 

    Stage 1  - Cleaning 

    Stage 1 - Procedure and Application

    Effective cleaning of: 

    • Internal wells and surfaces 
    • Internal piping and pumps 
    • Deck 
    • Equipment surfaces (internal and external) 
    • Protective clothing

    Scenario – when to apply stage 1:

    • Stage 1 cleaning must be completed after every stock movement or treatment, and before contact with a new stock of fish.
    • Must be carried out as soon as work is completed on a given site.
    • Stage 1 only is acceptable for cases in which there is no significant risk of introducing new pathogens such as use of a vessel within the same epidemiological unit.

    NOTE: Process water may be taken up and discharged within 5km of the stock that was last treated or moved, but not within 5km of other active farms.

    Stage 1 - Documentation  

    • Vessel cleaning checklist completed and signed off by the Skipper (witnessed by another crew member).
    • Retain a log of stocks (cleaning/disinfection agents) on board and timelines of processes carried out.

    Stage 2 - Cleaning & Disinfection

    Stage 2 - Procedure and Application 

    • Complete Stage 1, and:
    • Effective disinfection of all components listed for stage 1.
    • Cleaning and disinfection of hull down to the water line.

    Scenarios – when to apply Stage 2: 

    • Movement of vessel between epidemiological units or stocks of uncertain health status.
    • Leaving a site with elevated mortality or confirmed or suspected infectious disease.
    • Vessels coming to Ireland from a state with no EU listed diseases present if the outer hull has been cleaned within the last 3 months and is visually free of heavy biofouling.
    • Vessels coming to Ireland from a state not free of EU listed diseases, provided a Stage 3 cleaning and disinfection (or equivalent process) was carried out within the last 3 months and the vessel has not been on active finfish farms since, has followed general best practice rules and the hull is visually clean. 

    NOTE: Process water may be taken up within 5km of the stocks last treated/transported, but disinfection must be carried out at least 5km from an active fish farm.  

    Stage 2 - Documentation: 

    The manager of the site where the vessel is to be used must: 

    • Be satisified that cleaning and disinfection has been completed thoroughly. Detailed records of cleaning and disinfection should be provided for this purpose. On board inspections or third-party audits can be used if appropriate.
    • Confirm that cleaning of the outer hull was carried out within the last 3 months if the vessel is coming from abroad.
    • Sign a cleaning/disinfection checklist before the boat can commence site operations. In situations where a vessel is coming in from outside the country (except where a Stage 3 disinfection is required), the checklist must be sent through to the Marine Institute.
    • Ensure that the Transportation log is kept up-to-date.

    Stage 3 - Cleaning & Disinfection – including hull below water line.

    Stage 3 - Procedure and Application 

    • Complete Stages 1 and 2, and:
    • Slipping of the vessel, cleaning and disinfection of the hull below the waterline.

    Scenarios – when to apply Stage 3:  

    • When leaving a site infected, or suspected of being infected, with a notifiable disease (EU or national).
    • If the vessel is entering Ireland from an area not free of listed diseases, unless: a stage 3 cleaning and disinfection or equivalent was carried out within the last 3 months and the vessel has had no contact with an active finfish farm since, adhered to general best practice guidelines and the hull is visually clean. 

    NOTE: After stage 3 cleaning and disinfection, the vessel should maintain 5km from active finfish farms if possible. If the only available facilities cannot be accessed without passing within 5km of an active finfish farm, the vessel should maintain closed valve status (including ballast water). 

    Stage 3 - Documentation:

    The Marine Institute’s Cleaning and Disinfection Declaration must be signed off by a vet and a copy of the completed checklist emailed to the Competent Authority (notification@marine.ie) before work commences on a new site. 

    Stage 3 can be performed at a suitable port in the country of origin, or in Ireland. Once slipped, every effort should be made to steer a course which keeps the vessel at least 5km from the nearest fish farm/processing unit, until it arrives at its destination.  

    Please email  notification@marine.ie if you require further clarification or guidance on any of the above information.