OATA hits out at ‘so-called’ consultation over SVS change status


OATA have issued a full response

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OATA has used its submission to a consultation on Susceptible and Vector Species to complain about the way Defra has handled proposed changes to the disease status of a number of popular aquarium fish.

Defra has failed to follow Government Consultation Principles on timescales, or giving sufficient detail to enable an informed response or allowing consultation responses to inform policy. 

“Given that the consultation document states that the ‘expectation is that all the changes will come into effect on 31st May 2024’ then it seems it’s a done deal, regardless of any consultation responses. So we have to ask ourselves what was the point of this so-called consultation. Defra has handled this very badly,” remarked OATA Chief Executive Dominic Whitmee.

OATA was given just a few weeks to work out the financial impact on the industry if more controls were introduced on a number of fish, including popular aquarium species such as zebra danios. But without any detail of what the particular controls would be then it proved almost impossible to understand their impact.

The trade body has therefore had to submit a response by the closing date that highlights the poor consultation process, along with some limited ideas on potential impacts, rather than the usual detailed response following input from relevant businesses that would outline exactly how the industry could be affected.

“As an industry, we understand and support the need to prevent diseases entering the UK. But changes also need to be proportionate to the risk. It’s only after securing meetings with relevant government agencies that we’ve been able to get a better understanding of what could be involved. 

“Unfortunately we do not consider this is an isolated example of Defra failing to listen to industry. We’ve experienced similar problems trying to highlight issues for live animals during discussions on new importing rules and delays in issuing CITES permits. There is just a worrying lack of engagement with industry that has been getting worse over the past few years.”

Read OATA’s response to the SVS consultation here.