Don T Fix What Isn T Broke

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Donít fix what isnít broke
11th April 2018

By Sandra Pearce
The Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association has responded to a Government consultation on tackling the enforcement of the EU Alien Invasive Species regulation in the UK and the penalties for those who flout the law.
 
OATA said the import of live ornamental fish into England and Wales was currently controlled under the Import of Live Fish (England and Wales) Act 1980 (ILFA), which prohibited the import into, or the keeping or the release, in any part of England and Wales of non-native species.
 
The ILFA regulates the five crayfish species and one fish species listed in the EU Invasive Alien Species Regulations (EU IAS). 
 
WELL ESTABLISHED
 
In its reply, OATA said: “The existing regime under ILFA is well established and well understood. Given that it was designed with the express purpose of preventing the introduction of invasive, non-native fish species, there appears little merit in seeking to develop additional or alternative measures in relation to the species it controls. To do so risks creating confusion, uncertainty and potentially contradictory controls, with the accompanying risk of unintentional non-compliance.”
 
The trade association said it considered that any legislation that ‘only allows for the management of a problem once it has arrived (such as would be the case if WCA was used) as being a retrograde step’. 
 
Any species that are already subject to ILFA should therefore continue to be managed under that framework, it suggested. 
 
It added: “It should also be noted that there is such a broad spectrum of invasive species, from highly invasive species such as Fallopia japonica that are not listed as of EU-wide concern, to species that are not invasive in the UK such as Eichhornia crassipes that are listed. Considering the wide range of responses required to deal with each, a single, one-size fits all framework would not be appropriate.”
 
INAPPROPRIATE SANCTIONS
 
OATA also pointed out that some plant species are difficult to identify, including Myriophyllum heterophyllum, Lagorosiphon major and Cabomba carolinana, all of which have been significant in trade in the past. 
 
It said: “This could result in specimens being unknowingly or unintentionally mis-labelled or sold as other similar species. It would be inappropriate to apply criminal sanctions in such circumstances, noting especially that the enforcing authorities could have problems identifying such species themselves.
 
“Also, it appears to be proposed that all species of Union concern will continue to be controlled in the UK once we leave the EU, regardless of whether or not they present an invasive threat in this country. Whilst we would not condone anyone trading in goods illegally, criminalising individuals or businesses for undertaking activities that present no biosecurity risk in the UK does not seem to be proportionate.”
 
OATA added that it had major concerns about the proposal to introduce penalties for species that are not invasive in the UK. “We do not believe that people should be penalised for their actions where there is no demonstrable biosecurity risk. Indeed, many of the UK Government’s own risk assessments have recognised that many species of Union concern do not present an invasive risk in the UK. 
 
“Instead of rushing to penalise people for unjustifiable offences, we should take this opportunity to review the list of species of EU concern and design a system that is relevant to UK circumstances, applying controls and penalties only in relation to those species of genuine, proven concern.”