Regulation 1069/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council (the "Regulation") is the principal legislation in the European Union regulating 'animal by-products' and 'derived products', which are not intended for human consumption. As a Regulation, it is directly applicable in all Member States including Malta. The term 'animal by-products' refers to materials of animal origin including entire bodies or parts of animals. 'Derived products' consist of items obtained from the processing of 'animal by-products'.
These materials can be dangerous to animal and human health if not properly disposed of, due to their ability to spread diseases or chemical contaminants. The aim of the Regulation, which has been in force since March 2011, is to establish public health and animal health rules for animal by-products and derived products, with the aim of preventing and minimising health risks arising from those products while also protecting the food and feed chain.
Who does the Regulation impact?
In practice, the Regulation affects any person having animal by-products under their actual control, including generating, using, disposing of, storing, handling, or transporting animal by-products. The Regulation directly impacts the shipping industry, in that all vessels which fly the flag of one of the EU Member States and which transport animal by-products must comply with the rules laid down in the Regulation.
What steps should be taken by owners and operators of Maltese vessels which are in the business of transporting animal by-products?
Each Member State must implement its own practices and procedures in accordance with the rules laid down in the Regulation. Owners and operators of vessels flying the Malta flag must apply to the competent authority in Malta, being the Malta Veterinary Regulation Directorate (the "Directorate"). The Directorate is authorised to register operators of vessels carrying animal by-products as provided for in the Regulation.
In accordance with Article 23 of the Regulation, the Directorate will request information about the type of animal by-products which the vessel intends on transporting. This includes the intended use and the countries of origin of the animal by-products, the name of the vessel and its owning company, the nature of the vessel's operations, and up to date documentation indicating that the vessel adheres to recognised cargo tank cleanliness standards. The latter includes standards set by industry associations such as the INTERTANKO 'Cargo Tank Cleanliness Standards for Chemical Tankers'.
It is fundamental to note that vessels must still be registered with the Directorate notwithstanding that the owning company of the vessel is registered outside of Malta. If the vessel operator provides the Directorate with all the required information, a registration certificate and an official number will be issued to the vessel which covers all its activities of transportation. It is not necessary to obtain new registration certificates for every voyage as long as the vessel's activity remains the same. To this end, the Directorate keeps a register of 'ABP Transporters' which is publicly available for viewing.
In the event that a registration certificate has already been issued to a vessel to carry one category of animal by-products, the shipowner may apply to the Directorate to have this extended to any of the other categories.
How does the Regulation classify different animal by-products?
The Regulation classifies animal by-products into three distinct categories according to the health risk that they pose to the public, animals or the environment. Transporters of cargo are responsible to ensure that the three categories of materials are kept separate from each other at all times:
- Category 1 material is considered to pose the highest risk to human and animal health and includes entire bodies and all body parts including hides and skins, of animals suspected of being infected by certain diseases specified in the Regulation, or animals other than farmed and wild animals, including in particular pet animals, zoo animals and circus animals;
- Category 2 material is considered as posing a relatively high risk to human and animal health and includes manure and the digestive content of animals. Category 2 is also the default status of any animal by-product which is not defined in the Regulation as either Category 1 or Category 3 material;
- Finally, Category 3 material is considered as posing a low risk to human and animal health, and includes animal by-products which have been classified as fit for human consumption but which people do not consume, such as waste from food factories and domestic kitchen waste.
Should there be any mixing of Categories 1, 2 or 3, the entirety of the contaminated cargo must be declared as the higher risk category of the animal by-products of the mixture.
The Regulation serves as a useful tool to regulate all aspects relating to the collection, treatment, storage, transport or use of animal by-products. Owners and operators of Maltese flagged vessels carrying such cargo are to be aware of their obligations under the Regulation and are to approach the Directorate to be registered as an ABP transporter.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.