23 September 2014

The Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association is writing to all UK MEPs in advance of a conference on animal welfare organised by Eurogroup for Animals.

The Brussels-based group is staging a two day conference following up on a number of campaigns they have around animals in the EU, from horses to pigs and ‘exotic pets’.

“We’re only a small trade association so we can’t afford to put on such impressive – and expensive – conference in the heart of the European Parliament but we still want our point of view heard on the subject of exotic pets,” said OATA’s Chief Executive Keith Davenport.

“So in advance of the conference we have written to all the UK MEPs and urged our European counterparts to do the same with their representatives. We’ve also alerted other organisations which represent the other industries coming under fire at this conference that it’s taking place, in case they should want to do their own lobbying on the subject.

“Eurogroup for Animals’ conference is called Putting Animal Welfare at the heart of Europe – that’s a fine aim and one that we would of course support within our own industry. We believe that people who trade in fish or keep them as a hobby have the welfare of their animals at the heart of what they do.

“But we also want to make sure that MEPs realise that keeping exotic pets – like fish – is not a ‘bad’ thing and brings social, economic and environmental benefits not just to people in Europe but across the world.

“In our mailing to MEPs we have given them information highlighting that wild caught and exotic ornamental fish are good news for everyone, along with some facts around the economic benefits the pet industry brings to the UK and Europe.”

This is the latest element in the trade association’s #handsoffmyhobby campaign and builds on activity by pet trade association coalition ProPets’ activity to get the benefits of pet ownership recognised as a benefit to society in the run-up to next year’s UK election.

In the run-up to the May European elections, Eurogroup for Animals encouraged MEPs and candidates to pledge to ‘ban the import of wild-caught animals and restrict the number of exotic species that can be imported and traded in the EU.’ OATA launched its #handsoffmyhobby in reply to this which continues to highlight the social, environmental and economic benefit of wild caught and exotic pets such as fish.

Read a copy of the letter sent to MEPs here

Read our Wild caught & exotic fish – good news for everyone leaflet

Read the ProPets leaflet on UK pet ownership benefits and the European picture

We’ve put together some frequently asked questions here