We recognise that many of the species we trade in are not native to the UK. We believe our industry has a responsibility to educate our customers about the need not to release fish or plants into the wild. Our advice is always to keep them in your garden pond or aquarium and to compost aquatic plants with care. We therefore support the Be Plant Wise campaign and promote it to the industry to share with customers.
It’s also fair to say that very few of the species we trade in could ever become invasive because most are tropical species that would not survive our colder temperatures. But good gardeners still need to be careful, for example by not creating ponds near to native waterways or by throwing aquatic plants over the hedge or into rivers etc. And of course not all native species find their home across the whole of the UK so we need to be careful about which plants we choose for ponds and gardens.
Alien invasive/non-native species are flora and fauna that are found outside their natural range and, if allowed to escape, can thrive and rapidly colonise a wide area causing damage to the ecosystem. That’s why we help to spread the message that it’s important to compost with care and to keep aquatic plants in the closed system of your pond or aquarium.
What we are doing
- We support initiatives such as the Be Plant Wise campaign and work with the GB Non-Native Species Secretariat to help to improve and promote the campaign. It’s important to ensure that our industry and fish keepers are part of the solution rather than the problem.
- We alert the industry to issues when we are aware of potential problems. These have included moss balls potentially infested with zebra mussels and encouraging the sale of British produced snails and mussels for garden ponds.
- We work to address unsubstantiated claims about the potential invasiveness of species within our industry, particularly during the formation of legislation. We try to ensure that any legislation is measured, rational and protects the environment. Over the past few years we have worked with the European Pet Organization to help it with submissions to the European Commission on additions to the EU Alien Invasive Species Regulation’s List of EU Wide Concern.
- We regularly add our voice to Government committees and calls for evidence on invasive species, such as Westminster’s Environmental Audit Committee.
- We work to ensure that species are never released in the wild and so never become invasive. We work closely with relevant agencies to raise awareness in our industry of the ‘no release’ message. All our care sheets for example have the no release message on them and we have worked with REPTA on our joint Code of Practice for responsible pet keeping.
- We are calling on manufacturers and dry goods producers to put the no release message on their packaging when they redesign them. Pets at Home and Maidenhead Aquatics have already incorporated these messages into the way they sell products to their customers.