Defra minister Lord Gardiner, OATA CEO Dominic Whitmee and Pets at Homes’ Aquatic Operations Manager Pete Carey are pictured during the visit.

30 March 2017

The Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association welcomed the visit by Lord Gardiner to Pets at Home’s New Malden store during National Invasive Species Week.

Lord Gardiner, who is Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, visited the pet superstore yesterday (Wednesday March 29) to see what the industry is doing to promote the ‘no release’ message to customers.

During his visit the Government minister saw how Pets at Home educates customers not to release non-native species into the wild when it sells tropical fish and aquatic plants. He was also shown how customers were made aware of the welfare needs of all the animals they buy – including hens. New Malden is one of only a handful of Pets at Home stores to sell chickens and staff explained the advice it gave during the recent avian flu restrictions.

“We are very pleased that Lord Gardiner chose to visit one of our members during this important awareness raising week to see how the industry plays its part in educating customers about not releasing non-native flora and fauna,” said OATA Chief Executive Dominic Whitmee.

“We believe our industry does take its responsibilities seriously about the need to tell customers about composting pond and aquarium plants carefully and not to release fish, or other non-native animals, into the wild.”

In the run up to National Invasive Species Week OATA also distributed new stickers, provided by Defra, to its retail members to use on aquatic plant display tanks. The stickers reminded customers that they should not dispose of pond and aquarium plants in the wild. OATA also asked retailers to chat to all customers about composting carefully when they sell pond plants during pond season.

National Invasive Species Week runs from Monday March 27 to Sunday April 2.