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Supporting invasive species week 2018!

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By Milthon Lujan

By Pauline Davey*
UK.- It’s the start on Invasive Species Week 2018 and we’re very pleased to again be supporting this important initiative from the Non-Native Species Secretariat.

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The Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association Ltd (OATA) recognises that virtually every species which our industry trades in is not native to the UK so we have a responsibility to educate our customers about the need not to release fish or aquatic plants into the wild. The message should be clear every time something is sold – all ornamental fish and aquatic plants should always remain within aquariums or ponds. However it is equally worth making the point that many of the species we trade in are tropical so could not become invasive because they would not survive our colder temperatures if they were ever released.

Coldwater fish – like goldfish – do have the potential to become invasive. We are naturally concerned about that risk but we are also concerned for the welfare of the fish. Although it may appear to be a kind gesture, the release of any fish into the wild is cruel, since predation, starvation, cold or disease will most likely kill them. It is also against the law. All our care sheets have a strong ‘no release’ message and we have also been involved in creating fish bags for shops to use when they sell species which also highlight this message.

Certain aquatic plants probably offer the greatest risk of becoming invasive. Where there is strong evidence for this we support a ban on sales of these plants. Indeed OATA recommended to the industry not to sell a number of plants – from Water Fern (Azolla filiculoides) and Water Primrose (Ludwigia grandiflora) to Parrot’s Feather (Myriophyllum aquaticum), Floating Pennywort (Hydrocotyle ranunculoides) and Crassula helmsii – for several years before they were finally banned by Defra in 2013. But where there is not a strong case for plants to become invasive in this country – such as water hyacinth – then we have made a case for these not to be included on the EU Alien Invasive Species regulation (albeit unsuccessfully). When a plant cannot survive UK winters – because of temperature and poor light levels as in the case of water hyacinth – then we do not believe these plants should be banned from sale.

See also  Wrasse – A Natural Solution

Throughout this week we’ll be sharing what our industry does to try to tackle invasive species, from joining forces with the Reptile & Exotic Pet Trade Association (REPTA) to produce a Code of Practice for pet owners and traders to encourage the responsible ownership of non-native pets to encouraging manufacturers to include the ‘no release’ message on their packaging.

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We are also keen and long-term supporters of the Be Plant Wise campaign. This initiative is aimed at getting people to think responsibly when they dispose of invasive plants, such as aquatic plants. We ask our members to support the campaign by displaying information and talking to customers when they sell aquatic plants. You can find point of sale information here

And raising awareness about invasive species is not just something the UK industry does. OATA works with fellow trade associations from across the globe to play our part in making sure the only thing that spreads is the message. Find out more about what the global industry has been doing here and here.

*Source: Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association

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