An enforcement regime to stop the sale of illegal invasive species has finally come onto the statue books in England and Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Invasive Alien Species (Enforcement and Permitting) Order 2019 comes into effect on 1 December 2019 which means enforcement agencies such as the Animal and Plant Health Agency now have sanctions and penalties they can use to pursue people who sell banned invasive species.

This has been a long time coming, bearing in mind the EU Alien Invasive Species Regulation that lists the banned species has been in force since 2014. It only covers England and Wales and there is similar legislation in Northern Ireland. It looks like Scotland revised its Wildlife and Countryside Act in April 2019 to take account of this.

So across the UK if you see examples of banned aquatic plants or terrapins being offered for sale, whether in a shop or online, you should report them to the below agencies which now have the power to pursue those individuals and companies with enforcement action, such as fines.

Reporting illegal sales of banned invasive aquatic plants.

Try to provide evidence in the form of photos or screengrabs as well as full details of the retailer.

For England and Wales

Contact your local APHA Plant Health and Seeds Inspector, or the PHSI headquarters, in York:

Tel: 01904 405138


Find more information here.

For Scotland

Contact the Scottish Government’s Horticulture and Marketing Unit:

Tel: 0131 244 8935


Find more information here.

For Northern Ireland

Contact the DARD Plant Health Inspection Branch:

Tel: 0300 200 7847


Find more information here.

Advice to pond owners who have banned plants

We would also urge industry to educate customers about the safe disposal of banned invasive aquatic plant species they might find in their pond. It is not illegal to have these plants in their pond but you can advice your customers:

  • They must not pass on plants to other people
  • They must make sure that if or when they remove the plants they dispose of them safely to make sure the plants cannot spread into the countryside
  • They must absolutely not plant them in the wild!

The pond plants that are banned from sale (or being moved from the pond they are currently in) are:

  • Water Fern (Azolla filiculoides)
  • Parrot’s Feather (Myriophyllum aquaticum)
  • Floating Pennywort (Hydrocotyle ranunculoides)
  • Australian swamp stone crop (New Zealand Pygmyweed) (Crassula helmsii)
  • Water Primrose (Ludwigia grandiflora)
  • Water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes)
  • Cabomba (Cabomba caroliniana)
  • Curly waterweed (Lagarosiphon major often inaccurately called Elodea crispa
  • American skunk cabbage (Lysichiton americanus)
  • Giant Salvinia (Salvinia molesta)
  • Senegal tea plant (Gymnocoronis spilanthoides)

Advice to terrapin owners

There are a number of animals which are also banned under the EU Alien Invasive Species Regulation, with Pond sliders (Trachemys scripta) likely to be the main species that would affect our industry (The latest additions also include stripped eel catfish (Plotosus lineatus) and Pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus)).

Again, it’s really important to stress to any customers who ask about their terrapins that it is not illegal to have these animals if they were bought before the regulation came into effect in 2014. But they do need to make sure that:

  • These animals do not breed.
  • If owners can no longer care for their terrapins they must not release them into the wild.
  • If owners want to rehome these animals they can be given up for adoption to the National Centre for Reptile Welfare in Kent.

You can read the new enforcement legislation for England and Wales here.

Thank you to GB Non-Native Species Secretariat for the image.