Trade Organisations

£3 million of sales saved after OATA steps in over plant ban

The Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association (OATA) is reporting it has saved the aquatics industry around £3 million in lost sales after preventing a ban on three plants originally on a DEFRA prohibition list.

OATA’s campaigning on behalf of the industry means oxygenators, such as Lagarosiphon, water hyacinth and water lettuce, will remain on the shelves following DEFRA’s latest ban announcement.

DEFRA announced earlier this week that it is stopping the sale of five plants, some of which OATA had previously recommended retailers do not sell.

Despite its success, OATA also sent out a cautious message to those involved in the sale of aquatic plants and fish, telling them to “up their game” in encouraging the public to responsibly dispose of unwanted or excess plants or pets.

Chief executive of OATA Keith Davenport explained: “When the sales ban was first suggested the range of species was rather longer, because it included Lagarosiphon, water hyacinth and water lettuce.

“Losing these three plants would have been a major blow to the whole trade, losing them an estimated £3 million a year in sales. OATA recognised this, and campaigned long and hard to make the proposed prohibition list as short as possible, while not losing sight of the need to address the issue of garden pond plants appearing in the wild. Our work with DEFRA means these three plants, originally on the banned list, will continue to be sold, which we think is a really positive outcome for traders at such a difficult economic time.

“The government recognised that the industry’s willingness to promote the ‘Be Plant Wise’ message did play a significant part in encouraging people to be responsible but we can’t become complacent and now’s the time for us all to up our game. As an industry, we need to take the lead and demonstrate that tighter controls are not needed and could never be as dynamic and effective as the industry’s own efforts.

“We all need to play our part in shouting the message loud and clear, so that customers don’t get rid of unwanted plants – and pets – into the wild. OATA is the ‘voice of the industry’ and this victory clearly demonstrates that DEFRA listens to our voice but we also need the industry to support and join us in this fight.”

The five plants banned by DEFRA are water fern; parrot’s feather; floating pennywort; Australian swamp stone crop (New Zealand pygmyweed); and water primrose.

Retailers selling these plants face a fine of up to £5,000 and/or up to six months in prison. Retailers have a year to adjust to the ban.

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