The Government has launched a review of the way goods enter Great Britain with its Target Operating Model (TOM) consultation.

It asked for views from businesses and trade organisations and OATA has submitted comments on behalf of the ornamental aquatics industry, particularly around the import of animals, plants and their related products which are most relevant to our members.

One proposal is the introduction of trusted trader status, where businesses can show they work to high standards and have fewer checks as a result. This is something we have long highlighted to Government as a welcome approach. However, it is disappointing to see that the Government has taken a blanket approach to the import of all animals, labelling them all as ‘high’ risk, therefore excluding them from any possibility of trusted trader status for the businesses which import them.

We believe this is excessive for tropical fish and we have made the point that live aquatic animals destined for the pet trade, including live ornamental fish, should be in a lower risk category than currently proposed in the Target Operating Model (TOM).

These animals are a low biosecurity risk due to the fact they are destined for closed systems (throughout the supply chain and with the end user) and have poor survivability beyond these settings. This is already recognised across Governmental departments, with reduced checks (10% of consignments) currently in place at the border. High risk categorisation for live animals could mean 100% checks at the border which would result in very long delays clearing consignments of live fish, which would have severe animal welfare implications.

With lower risk category designation, consignments of live aquatic animals for the pet trade should be subject to reduced requirements of physical checks at the border and operators dealing in these animals should be eligible for all the other associated benefits of a lower categorisation, such as the trusted trader schemes that are being developed.

We have therefore proposed that live aquatic animals are revised to a lower risk category so that businesses in our sector can be included in a pilot for trusted trader schemes and receive the same benefits as traders also dealing in other lower risk goods.