Ornamental Fish International (OFI), along with other pet trade associations around the world including Canada, the United States, Europe and the UK have banded together to write an open letter in response to calls to end all live animal trade in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Our letter expresses the pet industry’s alarm at the use of the current pandemic to push calls for blanket bans on wildlife trade, without a care for the consequences this would bring, and urges national and international bodies governing the trade of live animals to resist calls for the elimination of the wildlife trade and instead to rely on sound science, good regulation and robust enforcement to prevent the spread of disease.
The UK’s Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association was behind the open letter, supported by Ornamental Fish International, US and Canada’s PIJAC, REPTA, members of the European Pet Organization and the Sustainable Users Network, an umbrella organisation for affiliated associations with a broad interest in trade and keeping of non-domesticated animal species. OATA’s Chief Executive Dominic Whitmee explained the need for the open letter. “We are seeing a growing number of indiscriminate calls from a wide range of NGOs and celebrities who are calling for a ban on wildlife trade, with no heed for what this would actually mean.
“We feel many of the anti-trade NGOs are using the cloak of this undoubtedly concerning and worrying pandemic to further their own political agendas, pursuing this call to stop trade without considering the varied nature of the trade and the consequences of any ban for many of the poorest people on this planet.
OFI President Shane Willis said "There should be scientific evidence to support regulation of wildlife trade particularly where livelihoods in vulnerable communities and developing countries are involved. There is clear evidence that sustainable trade in ornamental fish can provide sustainable livelihoods and these should not be taken away from people through knee-jerk reactions or political agenda to see the ban on the exploitation of all animals and animal products"
This statement was echoed by Mr Whitmee “We feel many of the anti-trade NGOs are using the cloak of this undoubtedly concerning and worrying pandemic to further their own political agendas, pursuing this call to stop trade without considering the varied nature of the trade and the consequences of any ban for many of the poorest people on this planet.
“But we also stand firm as a global industry in acknowledging the need to tackle unsustainable use of wildlife and illegal trafficking. As the letter says unsustainable and illegal practices that are harmful to biodiversity taint and demonise the reputation of those who work sustainably and legitimately. We support and pledge to work with credible organisations in the fight to develop stronger policies and increased enforcement action across the world to tackle these issues.”
The letter can be downloaded here