OATA’s Board of Directors represent the entire ornamental aquatic industry, from importers to retailers, wholesalers to manufacturers, and are elected by members at our Annual General Meeting, held each autumn.

Directors must stand for re-election every three years.  Any of our members may be nominated to stand for election to the Board of Directors; if you would like to be considered for election, please contact the current OATA Chairman or find out more about what’s involved here.

Laura Carlin

Laura Carlin

Chair

My experience covers a variety of sectors within the trade spanning the past 20 years and I have the grey hairs to prove it.  Initially I worked for a large multi-site chain whilst studying for my BSc in Marine Biology, then a public aquarium, a wholesaler/importer and lastly in independent aquatics store before setting up my own wholesale company, EcoMarines.  EcoMarines is driven by nothing other than my pure passion to improve our trade by focusing on sustainability and ethics.  Part of this has seen me work extensively on shutting down illegal coral imports, producing documents alongside OATA to help authorities spot and act on ‘fake mariculture’ as well as tirelessly working with exporters and like-minded companies on improving sourcing, quarantine procedures and shipping strategies.

 

Dr Donna Snellgrove

Dr Donna Snellgrove

Incoming Vice Chair

Dr Donna Snellgrove is the manager of the fish team at WALTHAM, the centre for pet research which is part of Mars Petcare.

Donna has a BSc degree in biological sciences specialising in marine biology from the University of Plymouth, which she followed with an MSc in biological research methods from Exeter University.  She then returned to Plymouth to do a PhD in fish nutrition and physiology. Her research, sponsored by an Aquafeed company, investigated the availability and fate of minerals from various raw materials in diets for production rainbow trout.  Her post-doctoral research based at the University of Connecticut (US), involved culturing seaweed (Porphyra sp.) for use in integrated aquaculture systems.

www.waltham.com

Matt Stevenson

Matt Stevenson

Outgoing Vice Chair

I studied engineering specialising in aquarium filtration, gaining a 1st class degree. Previously I have been involved in helping many NGOs ranging from the National Lobster hatchery in Padstow, to Coral Awareness Projects. With a strong understanding of marketing, I am well aware of brand and modern communication technologies.

Through my career, I have always been in the aquatic market segment and close to the retail trade. Using my knowledge and entrepreneurial flair to start biOrb aquarium in 1999. A strong believer in animal welfare I have more recently started Seneye who provide unique internet monitoring systems for aquatic welfare. My aim has always been to try and increase the numbers of fish keepers in the UK.

I have kept fish since a small child and currently have a Koi pond along with Marine and tropical aquariums. I am also a keen surfer, diver, and motorcyclist combining these where possible with his passion for travel.

www.seneye.com

Ben Bowles

Ben Bowles

Ben Bowles works at Pets at Home.

“I’ve always had a fascination with aquatic life and have been an avid fish keeper for over 20 years.

“Whilst studying for a BSc in Marine Geography I started working in store part time for Pets at Home and after graduating worked as part of the buying team, specifically for aquatics and reptile, followed by working within the pet team as a Field Pet Partner responsible for pet welfare for the last decade.

“Overall I have almost 17 years’ experience in the aquatic trade and I’m passionate about making fish keeping welcoming and accessible.”

Rob Edgecock

Rob Edgecock

With his first job as a ‘fish importer’, Robert has been in the aquatic import and distribution business for twenty years. In 1999, Robert founded Independent Aquatic Imports Ltd with business partner Annie Biggerstaff and they are both as passionate about the business now as they were then. The company imports and distributes ornamental fish and aquatic plants across the UK. Married with three children, Robert enjoys relaxing with family and friends and the odd round of golf.

“I joined OATA to offer my services and experience to assist the trade not only in matters directly relevant to our day to day business but also the whole trade.”

www.aquaticimports.com

Caroline Everett

Caroline Everett

Caroline Everett runs Anglo Aquatic Plant Co Ltd, based in Enfield, Middlesex.

She was born into the aquatics industry, as her parents, David and Rosalind, founded Anglo Aquatic plant (formerly Anglo Aquarium) over 50 years ago. She has been involved in the business from a very early age. After university, she worked at Mars confectionery, designing and building production lines, but returned to the family business in 2009. Using her knowledge and experience from the corporate world, she has taken Anglo from strength to strength, focusing on quality products and customer service.

She has immense knowledge in aquatic plants and is regularly called upon to advise retailers, landscapers and consultants. She frequently hosts Capel Manor students at Anglo to enhance their knowledge of aquatics.

www.angloaquatic.co.uk

Neil Hardy

Neil Hardy

Neil Hardy is a founder member of OATA, a member of the board and has served on a variety of sub-committees. He has 40 years experience of the aquatics industry having started out in his father’s company in his early teens.

Neil runs Neil Hardy Aquatica Ltd with his brothers Peter and Jon and now has over 35 staff. The company has more than 3,000 aquariums and ponds and sells all types of tropical and coldwater fishes including a vast selection of the more specialist fishes which are imported and exported all over the world. The company has two additional fish farms producing and growing its own biosecure coldwater fishes.

Neil has travelled the world extensively collecting and sourcing fishes and has considerable experience building and designing fish houses, setting up shipping stations etc. Other ventures include the distribution of professional aquatic products, including the popular New Life Spectrum range of high quality fish foods.

www.neilhardyaquatica.co.uk

Paul Hughes

Paul Hughes

I initially felt I needed to join OATA to find out how the trade in marine ornamentals was being represented and whether I could offer help in that field. I also realised that there are far wider issues and every part of the industry at times needs support and a voice to often tackle so many layers of legislation and bureaucracy thrown at the trade. OATA provides this platform for its members, and tries to provide a level of help and support for retailers, manufacturers and distributors, attempting to protect many jobs across the UK. I like that.

Paul Hughes

Advanced Aquarium Consultancy

Phil Jones

Phil Jones

Phil Jones has been a devoted fish enthusiast for a remarkable four decades, and his passion for the hobby remains just as strong today as it was in the beginning. With 35 years of experience in the aquatic industry, he’s delved into various aspects of the trade, from retail to wholesale livestock/dry goods and e-commerce.

Part of Phil’s career was spent as the CEO of The Pet Shop, the largest online pet retailer in the GCC and MENA regions, based in Dubai, UAE. Upon returning to the UK, he took on the role of Managing Director at KKC Ltd, a wholesaler specializing in marine livestock. As well as this, he also assumed the position of CEO at Swell UK Ltd, the UK’s largest online retailer for aquatic and reptile products. With his extensive experience in the aquatic industry, Phil is eager to give back to the trade. What better way to do so than by serving as a board member on OATA.

www.kkcltd.co.uk  www.swelluk.com

 

Simon Langdale

Simon Langdale

Simon Langdale is a partner and director of Maidenhead Aquatics and has personally kept fish for almost 30 years. With over 100 stores nationwide Maidenhead Aquatics is one of largest UK retailers of livestock, plants and all aquatic hardware necessary for fishkeeping both in and outdoors. The success of these stores has been built on livestock expertise, high quality aquatic products and outstanding customer service.

Simon’s role in the business now takes him worldwide sourcing ethical and sustainable livestock and innovative products to benefit the welfare of livestock and enhance the fishkeeping experience.

Simon’s been a member of OATA for many years now and regards the role as vital to promote & protect the trade, to ensure standards of livestock welfare through the UK and identify and address issues within the aquatic industry, representing businesses on their behalf.

www.fishkeeper.co.uk

Philip Lawton

Philip Lawton

Our family run business Kidsgrove Tropical’s and Water Garden Centre opened in 1983 and has been a member of OATA Since its founding in 1991. I have passed both OATA Advanced diplomas and enjoyed the studying aspect which was required for these courses. Having these diplomas has also assisted my further knowledge which has been helpful to enable me to inform my customers with good quality advice and customer service.

Since we began trading in 1983 I have worked in all aspects of this trade from retail sales, stock control, preparing the necessary book work which is required. As a small independent retailer established in this industry for over 30 years I believe I can assist and encourage other smaller retailers to the board to make them aware of OATA and what they have to offer and I am committed to help the association in any way to help safeguard our members and the industry.

Having spent the last year as a new blood member on the OATA board I bring forward the views and opinions of the smaller independent bricks and mortar retail stores to the board so to help secure the future of the aquatic industry. Over this period of time I have being working with OATA towards a goal to help with a particular interest of mine which is the inconsistency of local authorities issuing pet licenses throughout the United Kingdom.

My hobbies include gardening and after all these years I am still a keen aquarist with a special interest in aquatic gardening and custom built aquarium installations.

http://www.kidsgrovetropicals.co.uk/

Rob Peck

Rob Peck

Rob set up and manages The Coral Centre, a coral farming facility/retail store that also undertake scientific research for coral growth and reef restoration, bridging the gap between hobbyist and scientist.  “I have a real passion to make a difference in the hobby, as we get a better understanding of fish keeping and the impact this can have on the environment. My background is retail marketing and customer experience, learning the trade in the DIY industry, before moving into the aquatic trade. I’m keen to use these skills to help support the delivery of tools that’ll help traders deliver a high standard of customer experience within their shops and online stores. Outside of the trade, I’m a keen marine keeper and avid sports fan.” www.thecoralcentre.co.uk

Max Pedley

Max Pedley

Max Pedley runs Ornamental Aquatics Wholesale. He has eight years of experience working in the aquatic trade, starting in retail positions before moving into an instructor/technician role in the education sector before becoming a Director at Ornamental Aquatics Wholesale. “I became a Director of OATA because I feel I can help the industry with my unique outlook and ‘boots on the ground’ approach to the trade. As a very passionate and active member of the freshwater hobby side of the industry, I also hope to bridge the gap between professionals and hobbyists. I look forward to working with other directors to help overcome challenges the trade faces.”

Brian Schaff

Brian Schaff

Brian has over 18 years of experience in the industry with its roots in marine ornamental aquaculture leading to various world firsts in rearing species at commercial scale. Over the years he has developed his experience from managing various departments in the business over various countries and various roles in other trade associations specifically in the Iberian peninsula (AEDPAC and APCPAC). Brian is now a partner and director for TMC.

“As Managing Director of Tropical Marine Centre, I have responsiblity for the entire worldwide operations of our centres of excellence in fish as well as their supply lines and customer base, ensuring that TMC upholds its position as Europe’s leading supplier of the highest quality, ethically-sourced marine livestock to the trade.”

www.tropicalmarinecentre.com

Pete Smith

Pete Smith

Pete Smith runs Aquasense (UK) Ltd.

I left the Coldstream Guards in in 1990 after serving 8 years, and completing  tours of The Falklands, Cyprus, Canada, Hong Kong, Kenya and Northern Ireland. I have worked in Logistics all of my civilian life and have worked within the fish industry for the last 15 years and the last 10 years of that  running a company called Aquasense UK Ltd.

I became a director of OATA so that I was able to have an input on issues that directly and indirectly impact my business as well as supporting the fish industry in general.

Maurits van de Pol

Maurits van de Pol

On the 1st December 1994 I started as a sales representative for Rob’s Shop Services, also known as Dutch Aquarium Supplies, selling tropical plants in the Netherlands. Over the years, Rob’s Shop Services has grown into one of the market leaders in the aquatics trade in Europe and the UK. In 2008 my family and I moved to the UK where I was  managing Aquadistri UK Ltd. I can communicate in several different languages and I have vast experience in Brexit matters both on the products as well as on the live food and ornamental plant sides. I look forward to working closely together with the other directors to tackle the various challenges we face and will face over the next few years.