The Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association (OATA) said it is “deeply concerned” by the new Animal Activities Licensing (AAL) regime which comes into force in England on 1 October 2018, and is warning businesses to get ready for its implementation.
The new licensing regime for England expands the types of businesses which need to be inspected and issued a licence by their local authority. For the ornamental fish industry this means that aquatics shops and commercial fish sellers continue to need a licence and, for the first time, other businesses which deal in live fish will also need to be inspected.
The AAL regime also introduces a starred system for the first time by which all businesses will be rated. This will then be used to determine the length of their licence from one to three years.
OATA is now urging those new businesses which will need a licence to apply to their local authority to find out what will be expected of them.
For example, some aquaculture production businesses (APBs) which are inspected by the Fish Health Inspectorate (FHI) will not need a local authority inspection. But if APBs are not inspected by FHI then they will need to be licensed by their local authority.
Dominic Whitmee, chief executive, said: “We have serious concerns about this star rating system which OATA has not been consulted on. We believe it will be very difficult for any business, especially smaller ones, to achieve the five star rating.
“Overall, we think this new regime will create many problems for businesses, especially smaller retailers and the newly captured businesses because of its complexity and the significant new burdens it introduces. Despite having raised our concerns with Defra on many occasions a number of our fundamental concerns remain.”
He added: “Defra has to review the new system so we will carefully monitor its implementation and gather evidence to support future changes. We are therefore very keen to hear from our English members about how they find getting their renewed – or new – licence from October. There are more details on our website about how they can let us know.”
OATA has pulled together information on its website and will be issuing advice and templates to help its English members meet the new requirements in the near future.