21 May 2015

The Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association is calling on its members not to import or sell dyed or tattooed fish.

They are also being urged to be alert to requests for large quantities of fish to be used as table decorations at parties and events and not to sell fish for this purpose.

The trade body, which represents more than 800 members from across the aquatics industry, has produced two position statements outlining its views to help retailers.

“We do not believe responsible retailers would have anything to do with either of these issues but we wanted to make our position clear on both,” said OATA Chief Executive Keith Davenport.

“While it might be legal in the country of origin to artificially dye or tattoo fish for purely cosmetic purposes we consider it a totally unacceptable practice that would definitely be illegal here in the UK. It makes no sense to be involved in something that we know would be considered animal cruelty if it was done in the UK. Responsible retailers really should have nothing to do with dyed fish that have been cosmetically marked in this way and we would not support any OATA member trading in these fish if they were found to have fallen foul of the law or face criticism in any way.

“We are also aware that retailers do get asked to sell unusually large quantities of fish to be used as table decorations at parties or events. Again, responsible retailers should refuse these sales and thankfully we’ve already been told by many of our members that they are doing exactly that. We’re concerned it may be cruel, that the fish may be disposed of irresponsibly after they served their decorative function and just it encourages this attitude that ‘it’s only a fish’ so doesn’t count for much. This sort of ‘throwaway’ attitude to fish does our industry no favours at all.”

After a review of its position statements on issues facing the industry, OATA decided to write out clear statements for retailers, and importers, to follow.

Dyed fish position statement

Fish as decorations position statement