Animal campaign groups want to prevent people from keeping ‘exotic’ or ‘wild’ pets and we should be under no illusion that this includes tropical fish. They are campaigning to convince people that keeping these kinds of pets is wrong. Many of their campaigns focus on bringing in bans on the importation and sale of wild-caught and exotic species or attempting to limit the species that can be kept as pets through positive lists.
If these groups succeed with their aims then it would spell the end of the tropical fish-keeping hobby. All aquarium species, including fish, corals and other invertebrates like shrimp and snails, are ‘exotic’ – whether captive bred or not. And if there are no fish then there’s no trade or hobby – fish account for only a percentage of sales for the industry but without them there’s no need for tanks, filters, food, medicines, plants etc. It would decimate the tropical fish-keeping hobby and the livelihoods the hobby supports.
We need politicians to start to understand that keeping exotic and wild-caught species as pets includes tropical fish – and that exotic pets are not inherently a ‘bad’ thing.
That’s why we do not support calls for positive lists which aim to prescribe the species that can be kept as pets. We think that different pets suit different people so we need a wide range of species to help people find the right one for their lifestyle. Educating people to care for their pet properly is the key to happy and healthy pets, exotic or otherwise, not stopping ownership of certain species.
What we are doing
- In 2016 we launched our Wild Caught Ornamental Fish: the trade, the benefits, the facts report to show there is another side in the debate about wild caught pets. We sent this to both UK politicians and officials as well as organisations globally.
- In 2021 we published our Fishing for Facts: an introduction to the UK ornamental fish trade report to give an overview of the industry which again were sent to UK politicians and officials.
- We meet and correspond with MPs and officials in Westminster, the devolved administrations and EU politicians and officials to talk about the issue of exotic pets and responsible pet ownership.
- We respond to consultations putting the case for fish, such as the one run by the Scottish Animal Welfare Commission which looked into the trade in exotic pets.
- We work with other pet trade associations to send Positive about Pets information to MPs to ask for their support for a wide range of pet animals.
- We are building relationships with a wide variety of organizations, from charities to public bodies, to show there is another side to the issue of exotic pets, such as the IUCN’s Home Aquarium Sub Group which is looking at ways to build relationships between public aquariums and the home aquarium industry.
- We are a member of APGAW in the House of Commons.
- We ran the #handsoffmyhobby campaign in 2013, and resurrected for a number of European Parliament election, General Election and Devolved elections after that, to galvanise the industry and fishkeepers to engage with their elected representatives to show that the fishkeeping hobby and industry is important to their constituents.