OATA is asking local authorities to support its position that fish such as goldfish should not be given away as prizes at places like fairgrounds.

As the fair season approaches, the UK trade body is asking local environmental health departments to check the terms of any licences issued to these businesses to make sure they comply with animal welfare standards.

OATA does not condone the use of fish such as goldfish as prizes at places like fairs, says its Chief Executive Keith Davenport.

“Fish are living creatures so anyone who wants to take on the responsibility of a pet should do so after careful consideration and research before the animal comes home. They should not be an ‘impulse’ acquisition, such as winning it at a fairground stall.

“In the past we’ve received complaints from retailers following fairs and other shows offering live fish. Local retailers have, in some cases, been inundated by members of the public wishing to know what should be done with the fish they’ve ended up taking home with no tank set up and properly matured to welcome it.

“We feel strongly that any business offering fish to the public by way of trade, whether that’s in a pet shop, garden centre or fairground, should at least meet the conditions applied by the local council to pet shops in that area, such as stocking, holding and water quality criteria. But we can’t see how these conditions can be achieved in a fairground situation.

“Fish are vertebrate animals which mean they have the same protection for cruelty as other animals like dogs and cats. As the season for these forms of travelling entertainment starts to gear up we would ask local authorities to use their powers to prevent fish from being given away as fairground prizes to an unprepared public.”

The full position statement can be found here.