Snakeheads Face Possible Ban

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Snakeheads face possible ban
15th September 2017

By Sandra Pearce

The EU is considering banning the entire Channa (snakehead) genus and a further four aquatic plant species.

The five have been submitted on a list of invasive species the EU is seeking to ban across member states under the EU Alien Invasive Species Regulation.

A spokesman for the Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association said: “We are particularly concerned by the inclusion of the whole Channa genus on this list, which effectively seeks to ban all species of this fish. Currently in England and Wales, Channa argus is banned from sale but no others, although all Channa species are restricted in Scotland – you need a special licence to keep them.”

OATA has made representations to DEFRA on the proposed Channa ban, saying: “We oppose any listing that is made at a genus level as many Channa species are tropical/subtropical and cannot over-winter in UK waters. In compliance with the EU’s own rules, risk assessments must be made on a species by species basis.

“However, we would accept a specific listing to the prohibition of C. argus (northern snakehead) because of its wide thermal tolerance range in other areas of the EU where it is not already banned.”

The four aquatic plant species under review are:
> Gymnocoronis spilanthoides (Senegal tea plant)
 > Hygrophila polysperma (Indian waterweed)
> Salvinia molesta (salvinia)
> Pistia stratiotes (water lettuce)

To this, OATA said: “We do not believe these four aquatic species have the potential to become invasive in the UK, or indeed many of the more northerly member states of the EU.

“We believe the four plants should be regionally controlled and would support the recommendations made in Pest Risk Analysis documents that outline specific geographical areas to limit or monitor these plants, which do not include the UK.”

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What you can do
The spokesman added: “We would encourage other interested groups to make comments as well, such as hobby groups whose members keep the fish species mentioned.”

Fishkeepers can:
> Get your MP on board and ask them to lobby DEFRA on your behalf. OATA has made some suggestions about what you can include in an email.
> Email the Companion Animal Sector Council which will lobby on behalf of fishkeepers.
> Email OATA, which wants to hear from committed Channa keepers, particularly with technical information about keeping these fish, eg temperature parameters and breeding information, to show they cannot survive in British waters.

For more information and guidelines on writing to your MP, visit http://ornamentalfish.org/channa-spotlight-eu-ban/