NOAA’s Seafood Inspection Program
Learn about NOAA’s Seafood Inspection Program and the services we provide to the seafood industry.
NOAA Fisheries works to ensure confidence in U.S. seafood by protecting and strengthening the seafood market through global trade, establishing partnerships with industry and consumer groups, providing seafood inspection services, and analyzing seafood safety risks.
We offer voluntary seafood inspection services to processors and importers, domestically and internationally, to assist in meeting U.S. regulations and generally accepted seafood production best practices governing fishery products for human consumption. This service supports seafood safety and includes sanitation inspection, system and process audits, grading and inspection, and product laboratory analyses.
NOAA Fisheries National Seafood Inspection lab audits and certifies more than one third of the seafood traded in the United States.
In 2016, NOAA Fisheries Seafood Inspection tested this amount of fishmeal exports worth $26 million.
In 2016, NOAA Fisheries National Seafood Inspection Lab inspected this amount of fish oil exports.
For imports of certain seafood products, there are reporting and record-keeping requirements needed to prevent illegally caught, unreported, unregulated, and/or misrepresented seafood from entering U.S. commerce. This provides additional protections for our national economy, global food security, and the sustainability of our shared ocean resources.
Approved establishments are processing facilities or vessels that have voluntarily contracted with the NOAA Seafood Inspection Program to be sanitarily inspected, approved, and certified for producing safe, wholesome products in accordance with specific quality regulations established by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Refer to the list of approved establishments to determine which fishery products have been produced in fish establishments approved by the NOAA Seafood Inspection Program.
NOAA Seafood Inspection provides online validations of completed seafood inspection certificates. To use the system, you will need to know the certificate number, certificate number extension, certificate date, and species.
The United States will implement sampling and testing to confirm the designation of harvest location for geoduck. Collection sites within a harvest locations will be determined based on relevant factors including, but not limited to, harvest activity and access to the site.
The National Seafood Inspection Lab provides accredited ISO 17025 analytical laboratory testing of seafood samples for bacterial pathogens, chemical contaminants, and other health hazards.
We maintain a foreign trade database dating back to 1975 that allows users to summarize U.S. foreign trade (imports/exports) in fish products. You can summarize the weight and dollar value by year, product, country, and type of trade.
Our Seafood Inspection Program maintains contractual agreements with seafood processors and foreign/domestic distributors to provide services supporting compliance with:
Applicable food safety regulations.
Product quality evaluation.
Product grading and certification.
Facility and systems compliance.
Export health and catch certification.
Training and Consultative services.
It's a fee-for-service basis, which assures compliance with all applicable food regulations, servicing establishments such as vessels, processing plants, and retail facilities. Under authority in the 1946 Agricultural Marketing Act, we provide inspection services for fish, shellfish, and fishery products to the industry, nationwide, in U.S. territories, and in foreign countries. The program is the Competent Authority within the U.S. government for issuance of health certificates for export of fish and fishery products to foreign countries.
Beginning January 1, 2018, the basic hourly fee for full-time, contracted, non-HACCP (food safety), inspection services provided by the USDC Seafood Inspection Program will be $130.00.
There are standard procedures for processing fishery product labels submitted by official establishments for NOAA Fisheries approval.
We can help program participants achieve your marketing goals while maintaining compliance with the applicable federal regulations and policies. It is the USDC policy to work cooperatively and constructively with program participants and users of inspected products.
We offer the same services to both U.S. and non-U.S. firms operating overseas or processing in foreign countries. The range of international services includes:
Training on the principles of auditing, hazardous analysis and critical control point (food safety), or sensory analysis.
On-site implementation and verification of HACCP-based process controls.
Third-party verification activities for foreign processors.
Online certification through the Seafood Inspection Services Portal
We offer export certification services to facilitate exports of seafood products that meet the unique requirements of each importing country and any other specific industry buyer criteria.
We represent the United States in negotiations with other countries regarding their import requirements for seafood products from the United States. These negotiations frequently include the development and modification of certificates to accompany U.S. seafood exports. We are the Competent Authority to issue and sign these certificates in the United States.
If foreign border inspection posts raise questions about a certificate issued by the NOAA Seafood Inspection Program, NOAA will attest to the legitimacy of the certificate and make an effort to answer any questions. NOAA may act as a go-between for communication between the exporting industry and importing authority to quickly address issues that arise when a product is detained from entry.
Detentions related to export certificates may arise from simple language translation, varying interpretations of regulations in the importing country, or issues not related to seafood safety.
NOTE: Export certificates must be requested and issued prior to shipment of product.
We certify U.S. seafood products for export to the European Union.
Instructions and requirements are available for both export health certification and IUU catch documentation required for export to EU member countries.
Note: If products are first being exported to a non-EU country, but will subsequently be exported to the EU, they must be accompanied by an IUU catch document.
The NOAA Seafood Inspection Program certifies U.S. seafood products for export to any country requiring health certification.
Get country-specific instructions and requirements for export to non-EU countries:
Requests for export certification of aquatic animal by-products not intended for human consumption are processed by our National Seafood Inspection Laboratory. Certificates are issued after verification that all U.S. requirements are met along with any specific requirements of the importing country. Email requests to: email@example.com.
We maintain a database of verified completed seafood inspection certificates. To use the system, you will need to know the certificate number, certificate number extension, certificate date, and species.
The foreign country export requirements provided below are based on information from prior exports, official notifications, and available online websites from each country’s competent authority. The information is meant as guidance only, and all exporters should confirm product documentation requirements with the importer and the competent foreign authorities before production for export to a foreign market. We assume no liability for the accuracy of this information.
Information provided in each country's webpage relates to certification requirements for fish and fishery products destined for human consumption. Certificates for these countries might include food safety/public health attestations, animal health attestations, or both. Email inquiries to NMFS.Seafood.Services@noaa.gov.
Various foreign destinations for U.S. fishery product export have listing requirements. Exporters should carefully review their current listing status prior to arranging shipments. This section provides links to current approval lists for specific destination countries.
The listed trade partners have various listing requirements for export from the United States involving shippers and/or processors. These lists are maintained by either U.S. Department of Commerce or Food and Drug Administration in partnership with the foreign government.
NOAA Fisheries plays a critical role in streamlining seafood trade in and out of the United States. Working in conjunction with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, we provide support to seafood dealers to ensure imported seafood, such as Patagonian toothfish, bluefin tuna, swordfish, and bigeye tuna, is caught and imported legally.
We maintain a foreign trade database dating back to 1975 that allows users to summarize U.S. foreign trade (imports/exports) in fish products. You can can summarize the weight and dollar value by year, product, country, and type of trade.
We offer Three-Day Basic Seafood Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point Workshops for regulators and seafood industry members operating in or exporting fish and fishery products to the United States. We provide two course options: regularly scheduled Open Enrollment courses or Custom, On-Site workshops.
Combining reading, lecture and practical application activities, this intensive 24-contact hour in-person course provides participants basic body of knowledge and skills set to apply HACCP principles to meet FDA’s Seafood HACCP regulatory requirements. The course incorporates the training curriculum designed by the Seafood HACCP Alliance, a national committee of which we are founding member.
Participants meeting the course certificate attendance and completion criteria meet FDA’s training or “body of knowledge” requirements outlined in 21 CFR Part 123.10.
Open-enrollment workshops are offered in Amesbury, Massachusetts; Long Beach, California; Seattle, Washington; and, St. Petersburg, Florida and are conducted from 8:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. each day. To qualify for a certificate of attendance or completion, participants must be present for all class hours, complete in-class exercises, submit and pass two homework/learning assessments, and complete and pass a final exam.
For more information, email Lenora Williams with our Seafood Inspection Education Program at Lenora.Williams@noaa.gov.
For groups of 10 to 16 people, we offer a limited number of on-site and/or distance learning custom courses.
The registration fee, less a $50 administrative fee, will be refunded if notified in writing no later than 10 days prior to the program date. No refunds will be made after that date. No shows will be billed the full cost of the workshop. Substitutions may be made prior to the course start date. We may cancel the program within 10 days of the start date if there is insufficient enrollment. For additional information, please contact Ms. Lenora Williams at Lenora.Williams@noaa.gov or 228-549-1751 Monday-Friday 9:00am - 5:30pm CST.
NOAA Fisheries National Seafood Inspection Laboratory provides analyses, data management, regulatory compliance risk analysis, and technology transfer expertise to meet fishery management and seafood safety responsibilities. The lab shares seafood and aquatic animal health information and data with other federal and state agencies, academia, industry, media, and seafood consumers.
We perform a number of analytical tests for clients in the seafood industry on imported and domestic fishery products on a fee-for-service basis. These services include testing products for methyl mercury, heavy metals, bisulfites, histamines, and moisture, as well as species identification and testing for veterinary drug analyses.
We conduct microbiological analyses on fishery products to test for a number of contaminants, including listeria, salmonella, staphylococcus aureus, fecal coliforms, and vibrio bacteria, among others.
To help detect seafood fraud through species substitution, our scientists use a finfish muscle rapid screening process to identify genera and species. We’ve developed a simple, inexpensive, and fast method of screening for commonly-substituted species. Currently undergoing peer review for journal publication, our unique algorithm is part of proprietary software that uses a library of more than 100 authenticated species for comparison, and the library continues to grow.