Fish imports restricted


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CEFAS has added dozens of additional species to its list of fish that cannot be legitimately imported under a tropical fish import licence, which could lead to a drop in imports of unusual fish.

The revision affects Schedule II of the DOF 8T tropical fish import licence and means that retailers and wholesalers will no longer be able to import many unusual fish species without obtaining a special coldwater fish import licence and a full health certificate.

The species covered by the list include a range of barbs and other cyprinids, North American, Asian and European coldwater fishes, all crayfish species with the exception of Cherax quadricarinatus and 19 different loach genera.

The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) says that the new measures have been introduced because some companies were bringing in species that were not covered under the import licences they held:

"Some importers and licence holders have assumed that all fish on an availability list from a tropical aquaria fish supplier can be legally imported as tropical aquaria species. This is often not the case."

CEFAS says that the DOF 8T tropical fish import licence must only be used to import tropical fish incapable of surviving in the wild in the UK. It believes that some of the fish being imported recently under the licence are technically coldwater and it has published the revision to clarify the species and genera that it is illegal to import under the DOF 8T tropical fish import licence.

Trade confusionWhen news of the revisions of the import legislation reached the trade last week it appeared to be causing some confusion. Practical Fishkeeping spoke to one major retailer who believed that the revision was referring to fishes that were being banned under the Import of Live Fish Act (IFLA), seemingly without notice or consultation. This is not the case.

However, the fishes added to the list are candidates for the ILFA list and their imports may be restricted in the future. Some of the fishes on the revised DOF 8T Schedule II list, such as Myxocyprinus asiaticus, are effectively banned from sale under the Prohibition of Keeping or Release of Live Fish (Specified Species) Order 1998, but many others are still legal to import providing dealers obtain the appropriate documentation to do so.

Keith Davenport, Chief Executive of the Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association (OATA) told Practical Fishkeeping that this additional hurdle may be sufficient to limit the range of unusual tropical fish species capable of withstanding slightly cooler conditions, such as many loaches.

"The fish are being regarded as coldwater species for the purposes of the fish health regulations. They are also candidates for going on ILFA. They would require a DOF 1 - a full health certificate prior to import.

"It might have exactly the same or a worse impact than an ILFA listing because if they are caught from the wild you can't obtain a DOF 1. There is a statement in the DOF 1 legislation which states that any fish imported under the licence must come from farms, not from the wild."

CEFAS said that the list is indicative, and therefore not complete, and has advised importers to contact them before importing some species such as loaches of the Schistura genus that are only listed to genus level:

"It is the responsibility of prospective importers and licence holders to ensure before imports are arranged that none of the categories of fish/shellfish or individual species listed in Schedule II are imported under the DOF 8T licence'" said Davenport.

"If you or they have any difficulty in determining whether any species currently included (or likely to be included in future) in consignments covered by a DOF 8T are capable of surviving in Great Britain's natural aquatic environment you should refer the matter to the CEFAS Fish Health Inspectorate before importation takes place."

When is a fish "coldwater"?Davenport says that as a rule of thumb a fish is regarded as coldwater when it can survive or breed below 10 degrees Celsius: "If a species can breed in UK conditions and survive below 10 C then officials would argue that the species could become invasive and are very likely to refuse to accept that species as tropical, irrespective of its origin.

"Anybody intending to import fish species that are new to trade, and may be capable of surviving below 15 C should think very carefully about it and perhaps seek advice from the relevant authorities."

Knowledge of the temperature tolerances on many of the unusual fish species listed is not easy to come by and with some new species fishkeepers may assume that the fish are tropical when they actually tolerate cooler water.

Two species, the Amur sucker, Sarcocheilichthys sinensis and the Chinese sailfin sucker, Myxocyprinus asiaticus, are believed to have been illegally imported into the UK in the past under tropical fish import licences. CEFAS says that both species pose a risk to our environment if released:

"Both species originate in the middle and headwaters of the Yangtse River where winter temperatures may be much lower than those experienced in British waters. A fish surviving in this environment would not meet our definition of a tropical aquarium species."

What's included?The revision to Schedule II of the DOF 8T licence is shown below. Importantly, the list is indicative and not complete. Any fish that can survive below 15 C would be included in this list and must be imported using a DOF 1 import licence for coldwater fish. OATA advises importers to seek advice before importing fish that may fall within this category.

Abramis ballerus, Blue bream

Abramis brama, Common bream

Acheilognathus sp., Giant bitterling

Acipenser sp., Sterlets and Sturgeon

Alburnoides bipunctatus, Schneider

Alburnus alburnus, Bleak

Ambloplites rupestris, Rock bass

Ameiurus species, North American catfish

Amia calva, Bowfin

Anguilla sp., Eels

Aphanius apodus, Killifish/Pupfish

Aphanius dispar, Killifish/Pupfish

Aphredoderus sayanus, Pirate perch

Aristichthys/Hypophthalmichthys nobilis, Bighead carp

Aspius aspius, Asp

Barbatula sp., Loach

Barbus sp., Barbel species (excluding tropical barbs)

Beaufortia sp. except B. leveretti, Balitorine loaches

Blicca bjoerkna, Silver bream

Botia supercilliaris, Coldwater clown loach

Carassius auratus, Goldfish (Common and all varieties)

Carassius carassius, Crucian carp

Catostomus commersonii, Common White sucker

Centrarchus macropterus, Sunfish

Chaenobryttus gulosus, Sunfish

Chalcalburnus chalcoides, Danubian Bleak

Channa argus, Northern or Chinese Snakehead

Chlamydogobius eremius, Australian Desert goby

Chondrostoma genei, Laska nase

Chondrostoma nasus , Nase

Chondrostoma toxotoma, Toxostome

Cobitis sp., Cobitid loaches

Cookeolus japonicus, Longfinned Bullseye

Coregonus sp., Whitefish species

Ctenopharyngodon idella, Grass carp

Cycleptus elongatus, Blue sucker

Cyprinus carpio, Carp, Koi, Mirror, King, Common, Leather, Ghost

Dzihunia sp., Loach

Elassoma sp. - except E. evergladeii, Sunfish

Enneacanthus sp. - except E. chaetodon, Sunfish

Esox sp., Pike

Etheostoma sp., Darters

Fundulus diaphanus, Banded Killifish

Garra pingi pingi, Garra pingi pingi

Gasterosteus sp., Sticklebacks

Gobio gobio, Gudgeon

Hucho sp., Danubian Salmon and Taimen

Huso sp., Sturgeon/Sterlet

Hypophthalmichthys molitrix, Silver carp

Ictaluris sp., North American catfish

Jordanella sp. - except J. floridae, Flagfish

Koreocobitis sp., Loach

Lates calcarifer, Barramundi

Lefua sp., Loach

Lepisosteus oculatus, Spotted gar

Lepisosteus osseus, Longnose gar

Lepomis sp., Sunfish (including Pumpkinseed, Basses, crappies and bluegills)

Leptobotia sp., Loach

Leucaspis delineatus, Heckel's dace

Leucaspius delineatus, Sunbleak (Sundace, Belica, Motherless Minnow)

Leuciscus idus, Orfe, Golden, Black, Blue

Leuciscus leuciscus, Dace

Leuciscus souffia, Blageon

Leusiscus cephalus, Chub

Lota lota, Burbot

Macroramphosus scolopax, Snipefish

Micropterus dolomieu, Small mouthed Bass

Micropterus salmoides, Large-mouthed black Bass

Misgurnis sp. - except M. anguillicaudatus (includes M. fossilis), Loach

Morone sp., Bass species and hybrids

Mylopharyngodon piceus, Carp, Chinese Black or Snail eating

Myxocyprinus asiaticus, Chinese Sucker, also known as Zebra hi-fin or banded shark/sucker

Noemacheilus sp. - except N. masyai, N. fasciatus, N. selangoricus, Loach

Notropis/Cyprinella, Shiners

Onchorynchus sp., Salmon, Trout

Oreonectes sp. - except O. platycephalus and O.anophthalmus, Loach

Orthrias sp., Loach

Parabotia maculosa, Loach

Paracobitis sp., Loach

Pelteobagrus brashnikowi, Amur Dragon Catfish

Pelteobagrus fulvidraco, Catfish, Dragon (Yellow catfish)

Perca sp., Perch species

Phoxinus phoxinus, Minnow

Phoxinus/Chrosomus eos, Dace, Northern red belly (Common Minnow)

Pimephales promelas, Minnow, Fathead/Roseyred

Polyodon and Psephurus sp., Paddlefish

Polyprius americanus, Wreckfish

Pseudogastromyzon sp. - except P.loos, P. buas, P. doon, P. elongatus, P.myersi, P. fabgi, P. fasciatus, P. meihuashanensis, P. peristicus, Loach

Pseudorasbora parva, Topmouth Gudgeon (Clicker Barb)

Pseudoscaphirhynchus sp., Sturgeon/Sterlet

Rhinichthys atratulus, Blacknose Dace

Rhodeus ocellatus, Stripeshoulder Bitterling

Rhodeus sericeus, Rhodeus amarus, European Bitterling

Rutilus rutilus, Roach

Sabanejewia sp., Loach

Salmo sp., Salmon, Trout

Salvelinus sp., Charr

Sander/ Stizostedion sp., Pike perch (including zander)

Sarcochilicthys sinensis, Gudgeon, Chinese Lake (Amur Sucker)

Scaphirhynchus sp., Sturgeon/Sterlet

Scardinius erythrophthalmus, Rudd, Common, Silver, Gold

Schistura species - please consult with the FHI at Cefas if you are considering importing any Schistura species new to trade, many Schistura species are tolerant of cold water temperatures, Loach

Seminemacheilus sp., Loach

Silurus sp., Catfish

Siniperca chuatsi, Freshwater Grouper

Thymallus thymallus, Grayling

Tiaroga sp., Loach

Tinca tinca, Tench, Common, Green, Golden

Tor khudree, Deccan Mahseer

Tor mosal, Copper Mahseer

Tor musullah, Humpback Mahseer

Tor progeneius, Jungha Mahseer

Tor putitora, Yellowfin or Golden Mahseer

Tor tor, Redfin Mahseer

Triplophysa sp. - except T. gracilis, T. microps, T. marmorata, T. yasinensis, Loach

Umbra sp., Mudminnow

Valencia letourneuxi, Corfu Toothcarp

Vimba vimba, Vimba

Zacco platypus, Dragon fish (also known as Pale Chub or Freshwater minnow)

Zacco temmincki, Taiwan Zacco

All species of Crayfish except Cherax quadricarinatus