New guide to help promote the welfare of fish sold online


A new guide to help people sell fish responsibly online and transport them correctly to customers has been created by the Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association.

The guide to the responsible distance selling of livestock was written in response to growing concern about the way live fish are being sold online and transported to customers.

"We firmly believe that bricks and mortar shops are the best place for people to buy fish. By offering customers the opportunity to watch and enjoy the beauty of live fish swimming around, we believe shops help to inspire and captivate people to become the next generation of fish-keepers. We do not believe that online-only shops are able to do this in quite the same way," said OATA Chief Executive Keith Davenport.

"But we also have to acknowledge that consumer habits are changing. Internet sales are here to stay and more people are buying live fish online. For some people living in more remote parts of the UK, travelling to their nearest aquatics shop may mean a very long trip so they turn to online shops to enable them to pursue their hobby.

"So we’ve produced a guide to the responsible selling of livestock online to help improve fish welfare and raise awareness and standards among both sellers and customers about the best way to buy and move fish.

"It gives advice on a range of issues from sales to packing and transporting fish. Our guide outlines the law on distance selling and also makes clear our expectations of what a responsible seller — whether business or private — should be doing when they sell fish and arrange delivery to customers. By knowing the standards that a responsible seller should be working to, we also think it will help customers to decide who the best people are to buy fish from online."

Key points within the guide include:

  • Sales information should comply with Pet Advertising Advisory Group standards.
  • The seller can demonstrate they have satisfied themselves about the set-up into which the fish etc will be introduced and that it will not compromise the health of the fish.
  • Advice on the proper packing and shipping of live fish to ensure their welfare as they are transported.  
  • Fish should never be sent through the Royal Mail and only approved couriers must be used.
  • A firm date and time for delivery must be in place for the customer to take delivery in person of the fish when it arrives.
  • Good after-care information should be included.

Buying fish online?
OATA has also created two leaflets aimed at customers buying fish and shops which sell fish to help consumers understand the issues of buying fish online. All documents, including the guide, can be found on OATA’s website.

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