Although only trading for a matter of weeks, the owner of Burnley’s newest aquatic shop Bit O Blue has joined OATA (the Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association) as part of a conscious decision to give his business a level of credibility and provide him with industry support and guidance.  In fact, owner Tom Wood has already benefitted from being a member, having sought OATA’s advice on the preventative measures which initially arose in his Pet Shop Licence application.

With his eye firmly on the wider issues such as bio security, welfare and conservation issues, Tom is determined to ensure that his new venture stands out amongst other aquatic and pet shop retailers – from employing an interior designer to making the shop aesthetically pleasing, to installing a dedicated quarantine system and selecting only the best livestock from a range of different suppliers.

Supported by two full-time staff, Bit O Blue is positioned in the destination town of Rose Grove near Burnley, and occupies just under 5,000 square foot and houses over 250 tanks of marine, tropical and cold water fish, ranging from fancy goldfish through to Papua New Guinea Gold nugget wrasses. Tom recognises that his customers have a keen interest in the ecological story and where possible, he sources livestock that have been sustainably collected or captive raised. Several species, including Tom’s clown fish often come from UK based breeders

With his interest in fish keeping spawning from a childhood hobby with a goldfish in his bedroom, Tom’s career has seen him work for a number of aquatic retailers in the North West. One of his more exciting ventures took him to Saudi Arabia where he was responsible for seven artificial lagoons and a private sea-life centre at the Sheik’s Palace, to then moving offshore to manage one of the Prince of Saudi Arabia’s on-board yacht reef tank.

Although the vast majority of his expertise and knowledge has been obtained from ‘on-the-job’ experience, Tom initially attended a first-year degree course in Aquaculture and Fishery Management and subsequently completed OATA’s home-study Diploma Course.

Tom commented, “Becoming a member of OATA was an easy decision.  Having been in the industry for a number of years and experiencing its home-study courses, I am fully aware of OATA’s role in the industry and how it can support me and my business. I am also keen to work with OATA to introduce even better standards to the industry as time goes on, particularly on issues such as bio security.  It is vital that my customers have peace of mind and are reassured that the service I provide is in accordance with the OATA guidelines. As the business continues to grow I intend to offer fish for sale on line. Once again, the reassurance being a member of OATA provides with its standards will be invaluable.”

Keith Davenport of OATA, added, “We are really encouraged to hear of a new retail business starting up and focused on delivering the best possible service and standards possible.  We wish Tom every success and commend his dedication to conservation and welfare which is becoming more important than ever.”