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
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