Swiss legislation to affect aquarium hobby

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New animal protection legislation is to come into effect in Switzerland from 1st September 2008.

Fish are to be protected under the new legislation for the first time, following the Swiss government s acceptance of studies showing that, like other animals, fish do suffer.

Other animals covered under the new legislation are to include dogs, cats, cattle, horses, pigs, sheep, guinea pigs, lizards and rhinoceroses.

Under the new legislation, aquariums in Switzerland must not be transparent on all sides, and minimum aquarium and pond size restrictions will be put in place for any fish over the size of 20cm.

BrochureA brochure outlining the new legislation, available from the Swiss Federal Parliament s website, highlights the importance of maintenance and water quality in the aquarium.

It states that parameters including temperature, oxygen levels and salinity should be correct for the species concerned.

The legislation also covers the social aspect of animal welfare, and it will be considered abuse to keep sociable fish " include goldfish " singularly.

The euthanasia of fish is also dealt with under the new legislation.

From September 1st 2008, it will be illegal in Switzerland to flush a fish down the toilet, or freeze it, as a form of euthanasia.

The legislation states that fish should be stunned before killing using narcotic substances available without veterinary prescription.

AnglingSwitzerland s 100,000 anglers will also be affected by the new legislation.

Anglers will be required to demonstrate their expertise by taking a course on humane methods of catching fish, which the government says should be done as gently as possible.

The legislation states that fish caught should be killed immediately following capture with a sharp blow to the head from a blunt instrument.

Otherwise, if the fish are to be detained alive for a short period, then regular water changes should be carried out, and any excessive stress avoided.

The use of barbs and live bait will also be prohibited, except under certain circumstances.