Aquatic plant ban comes into force next month

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A sales ban on some aquatic pond plants is effective from April, which will stop the trade in five invasive species.

DEFRA introduced the ban last year, giving traders until April 2014 to clear any stock.

The five plants banned from sale by DEFRA are:
Water fern (Azolla filiculoides)
Parrot’s feather (Myriophyllum aquaticum)
Floating pennywort (Hydrocotyle ranunculoides)
Australian swamp stone crop/New Zealand pygmyweed (Crassula helmsii)
Water primrose (Ludwigia grandiflora)

The ban means all retailers in England must stop selling these plants or face a fine of up to £5,000 and/or up to six months in prison. Retailers have had a year to adjust to the ban.

"We’ve been saying for some time that retailers should not be selling these plants and any shops that have continued to do so have had a year to clear their shelves. So there should be no excuse for these five plants to be sold after April," explained OATA’s Chief Executive Keith Davenport.

"These plants have been identified by DEFRA as posing a significant risk when they escape into the our native waterways so we’d also urge retailers and pond consultants to make sure they give proper advice to their customers on how to manage and dispose of these plants when they’re already in ponds. There’s plenty of useful information about careful composting of aquatic plants in Be Plant Wise leaflets and point of sale information.

"It’s vital that our industry is seen to be acting responsibly across the UK when it comes to the 'no release' message because otherwise we’re likely to see yet more plant bans. We’ve already seen Water hyacinth come under fire in recent House of Commons’ evidence sessions by the Environmental Audit Committee. This group of MPs is examining invasive species in the UK and we know that other pond plants — including Water hyacinth and Lagarosiphon — are coming under increased scrutiny. These plants are worth millions of pounds to the industry so if we don’t want to lose these to the trade we need to be part of the solution — not viewed as the start of the problem."

More information on the banned plants can be found on the new pond season page on OATA’s website. 

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