Recently The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) is recommended to all exporters, shippers, importers and buyers of Cynops orientalis (Firebelly) and Pachytriton labiatus (Paddletail) newts to immediately establish a voluntary moratorium on importing them into the United States. They also recommended that all non-retail businesses engaged in the salamander trade regularly sanitize their facilities as a prophylactic measure out of an abundance of caution.
This moratorium was in response to growing concerns over the spread of Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans, or Bsal, fungus into the USA. This fungus, which is native to Asia, has impacted fire salamander populations in Belgium and the Netherlands. While various groups are working on effective testing and treatment regimens, until effective control measures can be developed PIJAC recommends that the responsible course of action is to temporarily suspend imports of Firebelly and Paddletail newts for the USA.
OFI applauds the responsible recommendation given by PIJAC in this matter and also asks OFI members to observe this voluntary moratorium on the trade of Firebelly and Paddletail newts throughout the international industry. While this may impact some members, it is felt that as a responsible organisation that we must support actions to reduce/eliminate harm from our industry. I would like to highlight the following points from our new OFI Charter:
- OFI uses the latest science for defining its standards and supports scientific work relating to our industry;
- OFI promotes the addressing of biosecurity risks in our facilities and the training of staff in biosecurity practices (see OFI Educational Publication 4); after long distance transport, or when needed, importers will see to it that fish receive adequate quarantine;
- OFI members undertake to make every effort to maintain the health of aquatic ornamental animals. They provide proper water quality, implement adequate treatment and feeding protocols and organize regular health inspections. OFI members restrict the use of antibiotics as much as possible, and in accordance with relevant national legislation.
- OFI members operate in a spirit of cooperation with each other and according to honourable standards of trading, both between each other and with non-members of the organization;
It is felt that asking members to observe a voluntary moratorium on trading in of Firebelly and Paddletail newts is directly inline with the above points from our charter. While OFI cannot stop this trade it is hoped that members understand the need to take this responsible action and respect this moratorium.
Shane Willis - Acting Secretary General OFI