New Fishing For Facts report lands with UK politicians


The Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association has launched a new report examining the trade in fish for home aquariums and garden ponds in a bid to tackle misconceptions about the industry.

The report has been sent to more than 130 politicians across the UK as well as more than 200 relevant government officials across all the administrations and related organisations.

As well as examining the economic value of the trade in ornamental fish to the UK, Fishing For Facts: an introduction to the UK ornamental fish trade examines four key issues where misunderstandings about the industry exist: animal welfare, health and biosecurity risks, sustainable sourcing, and ecological and societal benefits.

“There is no doubt that the past year of pandemic has given fresh impetus to those organisations which want to bring about an end to the trade in wildlife and we have seen that a majority of these campaigns are based on myths and misconceptions,” said OATA’s Chief Executive Dominic Whitmee.

“These campaigns increasingly call for additional measures to control or even ban the trade and keeping of so-called ‘exotic pets’, which is a very broad categorisation that can include tropical fish. We felt it was important to present to politicians, officials and others the actual facts about the trade in ornamental fish.

“Our report is based on a wealth of robust evidence and research and aims to dispel misconceptions about the trade, and demonstrate they are often over-exaggerated and misrepresent the facts. We want to show that the fish that people have in their home aquariums or garden ponds are well regulated, do not pose a significant biosecurity, invasive or zoonotic disease risk, and that high welfare standards are maintained throughout the supply chain.” 

OATA has concentrated on the live fish aspect of the industry because this is where most calls for new controls or bans are targeted. The report is available here:

The new report, along with OATA’s previous report Wild Caught Fish: the trade, the benefits, the facts, have also proved useful to other pet trade associations across the globe to help counter current campaigns to ban the keeping of wild taken pets, such as marine ornamental fish. A region in Belgium as well as Winnipeg in Canada are both currently consulting on a plan to bring in these types of ban. There are also campaign groups in Europe looking to introduce positive lists which would limit the species that can be kept as pets.

Throughout its 30 years OATA has succeeded in preventing bans within the UK. In the 1990s the trade association worked to prevent a ban on coldwater fish imports, helped to ensure soft corals & live rock were not listed under CITES, which would have made trade in these species much harder and more expensive, and stopped a scheme to prevent sturgeon being kept. In the 2000s OATA worked with global trade association Ornamental Fish International to avoid a ban on importing tropical fish from Malaysia. In recent years it launched its #handsoffmyhobby campaign targeting European Parliament elections to combat campaigns calling for a ban on wild caught pets. Closer to home, the Scottish Government also announced a review into the exotic pet trade a few years ago, although this does seem to have quietly disappeared.