OATA today (13 May 2019) launches its new Invasive Non-Native Species and Biosecurity training module to coincide with Invasive Species Week’s Freshwater Day, organised to raise awareness about non-native flora and fauna.

The new training module is aimed at retailers, pond & aquarium consultants, as well as fishkeepers and pond owners, to equip them with what they need to know to help identify invasive species, know what to do with them and take the right biosecurity measures to stop them spreading. It will also help those working in the industry to inspire confidence in their customers when they talk about choosing plants and fish for their ponds and aquariums.

“Our industry trades in a large number of non-native species so we have a responsibility to ensure our staff and customers are familiar with the issues surrounding the proper care and disposal of species that do not originate in the UK,” explained Assistant Chief Executive Dr Tracey King, who wrote the new course.

“Although only a minority of non-native species cause harm and become invasive, nevertheless it is important to be aware of why we should never allow ornamental fish and aquatic plants to escape beyond our ponds and aquariums. So we’re very pleased to launch this new course during Invasive Species Week to help play our part in raising awareness about this important issue.”

The course will examine what invasive species are, the serious problems they cause, how they affect our industry/keepers/owners, what actions can facilitate their spread and preventative measures OATA advises people to adopt. It will also look at basic fish and plant anatomy to help people identify banned species that might be mislabelled, to ensure they are not inadvertently offered for sale.

“It will offer additional professional development to anyone who wants to improve their knowledge to help in their everyday work both in retail and around pond maintenance. The course will also be useful for dedicated fishkeepers who want to widen their knowledge about the species they keep and understand the issues facing their hobby,” added Tracey.

The Invasive Non-Native Species & Biosecurity module will be delivered online, using a E-Learning platform and should take no more than three months, or less, to complete. There is a written assessment to pass before the Certificate of Attendance can be awarded. It is priced at £40 for OATA member businesses and £45 for non-members. Find more information about the course and how to order here.

The new module is the first in a series of ‘bolt-on’ courses on a range of key issues facing the industry that OATA plans to launch over the coming years, to supplement its City & Guilds accredited Foundation and Advanced Training Programmes. Future modules being planned by OATA include:  packaging and transport, marine species, fish behaviour and fish illness and diseases.

Invasive Species Week is organised by the GB Non-Native Species Secretariat and runs from 13 to 17 May. It brings together a wide range of organisations to raise awareness about a range of invasive species in a variety of different habitats, from freshwater and marine, to small islands, bogs and urban waterways.