Legislation that could have led to a decline in imports of popular aquarium fish has been altered for a transitional period to make ornamental fish exempt.
The Aquatic Animal Health Directive, 2006/88/EC, makes the fish diseases Koi Herpes Virus (KHV) and Epizootic Ulcerative Syndrome (EUS) notifiable throughout the EU and will introduce controls aimed to prevent the spread of the diseases.
Although EUS has been officially recorded in a handful of ornamental fish species, and has yet to make it to the UK, the authorities had proposed tighter controls over imports of species it deemed susceptible to the disease.
The moves would have led to the virtual disappearance of all wild caught members of the genera Puntius (barbs), Trichogaster (gouramie), Labeo (freshwater sharks), Channa (snakeheads), Mastacembelus (spiny eels), Mugil (mullet) and Catla (Giant carp).
However, according to a draft commission regulation which Practical Fishkeeping has seen, the revised legislation will now make ornamental fish exempt from the measures until December 31 2010.
The Regulation states: "For a transitional period ending 31 December 2010 the requirements as regards Epizootic Ulcerative Syndrome (EUS) laid down in part II.2 of the certificate laid down in Part B of Annex III to this Regulation shall not apply to ornamental aquatic animals destined solely for closed ornamental facilities in the Community."