Pet Gazette DECEMBER 2018 - Page 16

16 | PET GAZETTE | AQUATIC ANIMALS ACTIVITIES LICENSE: HOW THE LEGISLATION CAN AFFECT YOUR TRADE By Simon Strode, key account manager, Tetra UK W hen it comes to animal welfare in the UK, we are very fortunate to live in a country that has very high standards. Recently, legislation has been reformed to protect our animals further, which in turn protects the industry that we work in. Since 1 October 2018, any business in England which commercially trades live animals requires an Animals Activities License (AAL) from their local authority. This comes as trade bodies, such as OATA (Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association), have worked hard to ensure that fish are treated fairly in comparison to other animals that are traded in-store. Similar to our philosophy in meeting the needs of fish as well of those of aquarium owners, this new legislation should help improve the standards across the fish keeping category and hopefully aid in bringing in new users to the hobby. For retailers, the AAL helps to remove past issues that many stores have experienced, such as inconsistent inspections across different authorities, ensuring a more professional industry as a result and a level playing field for stores. In the long term, this can only be good for both the welfare of the fish and for the longevity of our industry. THE ANIMALS ACTIVITIES LICENSE DECODED The AAL guidance is a lengthy document, to some it may at first seem a bit daunting, so let’s look at some of the more specific points that a retailer selling fish would need to be aware of. Most relevant to aquatics are the following sections; • Part A – General Conditions • P  art B – Specific Conditions: Selling animals as pets • Part L – Fish Within the guidance document, Part L relates specifically to fish. Many retailers can rest assured that the guidance here is what they will no doubt already be doing, and to the experienced retailer none of this should come as too much of a shock. As the AAL is now firmly in force, it’s a good idea to encourage your colleagues to have knowledge of what is expected and ask them to add any input as to how you may be able to accommodate any of the points you don’t already adhere to or have as part of your own business requirement. HOW WILL THE NEW REGULATIONS AFFECT THE AQUATICS INDUSTRY? For all pet retailers, there are some key points to be aware of to help you pass inspection and ensure you are adhering to the new regulations. These include: Register of animals - An aquatic business is now required to show documentation of the fish coming in out via your premises. This can be shown by way of invoice from your suppliers or till receipts for your sales of livestock to customers. It’s important to add that every single fish by species will not be required here, just the sub categories such as Tropical Freshwater, Coldwater, Tropical Marine would suffice with the number sold. Aftercare information required – Aftercare now needs to be provided by law to encourage responsible pet ownership. Information to support retailers is now readily available in the aquatics industry, with manufacturers and OATA offering many sources for this. It’s important to ensure this is also clearly displayed and readily available for customers to take home, while being applicable to the fish in your store. Staff training - It now needs to be demonstrated that your business has a training policy in place, and your staff and colleagues will need to show industry-recognised qualification(s) and/or demonstrate suitable experience/training when it comes to trading fish. Water quality - One of the big differences in the AAL is the requirement to regularly check water quality and record all test results to ensure that fish are being kept in safe environments. All water quality parameters are available in the guidance document. The importance of light – Studies have shown that light is now very important to fish welfare and, where possible, fish should be maintained on an appropriate photo period (day/night cycle). This is easy enough for many of the marine aquariums that tend to have specific lighting that changes throughout the day, however, can be a little more difficult for older tropical systems in enclosed fish houses. Retailers shouldn’t worry thought as these aren’t too hard to incorporate a solution using natural light for gradual changes. Feeding – Already a very important part of animal welfare, license holders must now have a clear understanding of the nutritional requirements of the categories of fish they are selling and what they should advise the owners on. With so many species, this is very important and while there are many high quality and complete diets out there, including it’s good to ensure the customers are aware of the specific benefits of more specialist diets. With the new AAL being a very lengthy document that can prove daunting to smaller or less experienced retailers, my main piece of advice would be to become an OATA member. OATA have several tools in place to help our members meet the new requirements, including: • F  ree advice and downloadable templates to help members develop the required standard operating procedures and meet the recording requirements. • P  rimary Authority partnership used to develop consistent advice for members to follow, especially if members are experiencing difficulties in obtaining a licence. • O  ATA training courses will help to ensure businesses have well qualified and knowledgeable staff. Members benefit from reduced costs for these courses. Also, guidance is available from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) relating to the sale of pets and outlines what a business must demonstrate during an inspection. December 2018