The owner of an aquatic store in Northamptonshire has been prosecuted by Kettering Borough Council for running his business without a pet shop licence.
Following a complaint from a member of the public last year, Kettering Council officers discovered that Mr Isgar, of Avenue Terrace, Kettering, had continued in business, trading as I-Koi Limited, on Ebay and Facebook even though his pet shop licence had expired in 2013.
Mr Isgar pleaded guilty at Northampton Magistrates’ Court on March 1 2016 to an offence under the Pet Animals Act 1951. He was given a £300 fine and ordered to pay £200 costs and a £30 victim surcharge.
The Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association has welcomed the action by Kettering Borough Council.
"I hope it sets an example to other councils," said OATA Chief Executive Keith Davenport.
"We are concerned that ‘enterprises’ that trade on and through the internet and social media sites can avoid the inspections and costs that bona-fide businesses like our members have to incur. And of course the public do not get the same consumer protection buying from an individual that they do buying from a business.
"We hope this will encourage people to report sellers to their local council if they are selling large quantities of fish online or through social media sites like closed Facebook pages. These sellers should have a pet shop licence if they are a business and it’s not acceptable that their welfare standards should avoid inspection and scrutiny by the relevant authority as any aquatics shop selling fish must do.
"Royal Mail has also recently confirmed to us that it will not accept fish (except small fish fry) or hard corals for postage so we would urge customers not to buy from people who say they ship fish or hard corals through the post."
Shirley Plenderleith, Head of Public Services at Kettering Borough Council, said:
"This case has demonstrated that the use of evidence from internet and social medial sites can be used to support successful prosecutions and we will be monitoring these sites for any evidence of illegal sales. Whilst our primary responsibility in enforcing the legislation is the welfare of the animals we also have a responsibility as a local authority to ensure that we support those individuals and businesses that are operating within the law. If anyone suspects that someone is selling animals on a commercial basis within the Borough of Kettering then we will investigate any information received."