Over the past few months OATA Chief Executive Keith Davenport has put together responses to four consultation requests and attended two meetings in Brussels, joining officials and MEPs from across Europe, to ensure the UK’s aquatic industry voice is being heard in discussions on proposed legislation coming out of the EU.

New legislation that could have a major impact on the ornamental aquatic industry is being debated at the moment, including the EU Control Regulation under which there will be individual regulations on food and feed law, rules on animal health and welfare, plant health, plant reproductive material,  plant protection products and alien invasive species.

“It has been an incredibly busy few months for OATA but it’s one of our key roles to make sure the industry’s voice is heard in matters that could have a significant impact on what’s available for sale in the UK,” said Keith.

“Having spent long hours poring over the different elements that will make up the over-arching EU Control Regulation it’s obvious that different approaches are being taken over how plant health, animal health and alien invasive species will be dealt with.

“So a key point we’ve made in our responses on behalf of the industry is that there needs to be a coherent approach between all strands of the various regulations. Otherwise it will be incredibly hard for businesses – and indeed officials ‘on the ground’ – to know what they’re doing if they have to follow different processes depending on what they’re importing. This won’t help anyone and makes it even more likely for problems to arise, which will be time-consuming and expensive for businesses.

“Another key point we continue to make is that a ‘one size fits all’ approach across Europe just doesn’t work. At one of the meetings in Brussels I heard one person say ‘one size fits no-one’ which I think really sums it up. We need all the legislation being drafted at the moment to take into account the differences between member states.

“An example of this, which should worry our industry, is the stance being taken on water hyacinth. This is considered a big invasives problem in Spain and there are an increasing number of calls for it to be banned from sale across Europe. In this country, water hyacinth can’t survive our winters so it’s not such an issue and is worth hundreds of thousands of pounds to the UK industry. We’ve already seen an example of this ‘one size fits no-one approach’ with apple snails, banned from sale across Europe because of issues in Spain, and we don’t want this to happen again with water hyacinth.

“So it’s vital we represent the UK industry both in these written responses and by talking face to face with officials and MEPs in Brussels.”

The four consultations that OATA has given responses to are:

  • The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee’s inquiry into the issue of invasive species in the UK (you can see OATA’s response here)
  • The Food Standards Agency’s consultation on the EU Control Regulation
  • The development of the EU Alien Invasives Regulation for DEFRA
  • The balance of EU and UK competencies on plant health for DEFRA