Fishkeeping News becomes an OATA member

Its been a long time coming, but I’ve finally joined OATA via my company Fishkeeping News Ltd, and I’m glad I did. Over the past 20 years, I’ve worked for and with many OATA members in retail, wholesale, publishing, manufacturing and distribution, and now I’m going it alone I consult and contribute for bricks and mortar retailers, online retailers, livestock wholesalers and consolidators, all of which come under the OATA remit.

I and my clients earn a living from the aquatic trade, so it’s in my interest that its protected, spoken out for and, to a certain degree, self-regulated by a well-informed, professional bunch of people who can do all the stuff that the rest of us are either too busy to do or are just incapable of. And looking back, I used them when I worked for non-members too, so its only fair I give something back by way of a nominal annual membership fee. 

“The voice of the ornamental aquatic industry”

OATA (the Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association) was established in 1991 and represents more than 850 members from across the ornamental aquatic industry from importers and wholesalers to suppliers and retailers. Its core mission is to protect and promote the interests of all those engaged in the ornamental aquatic trade and its aim is to enhance the reputation of the trade by promoting the benefits derived from it, setting high standards, providing good education and training, and encouraging responsible ownership and enjoyment amongst fishkeepers.

When I want to know what fish or plants are banned from sale, I look up OATA, and I’ve enjoyed using retaliatory factoids from OATA on the sustainability of the wild-caught industry when people have told me fishkeeping is cruel and killing the planet. When I visit stores, its OATA training certificates I see displayed behind the counters, and it’s them I and others looked to for clarity during Lockdown. 

It’s their letter I printed off and took with me while delivering fish during that time too and now I’m a member, I can pick up the phone and ask their advice on any number of things concerning the ornamental aquatic trade and feel better informed and better prepared because of it.

OATA members must adhere to a Code of Conduct which includes how they treat livestock including transport, biosecurity, acclimation and husbandry and if you’re opening an aquatic shop for the first time, you’d do well to join and have access to it as it covers all sorts of things from Health and Safety to record-keeping, licensing and distance selling. 

It’s a great bridge between you and the big guys too, like CEFAS, DEFRA and CITES as OATA understand the needs and challenges of the smallest aquatic companies as well as the laws and legislation laid down by the largest government and international bodies. And when a bureaucrat puts forward a motion to ban the trade in all wild animals or the sale and movement of carp, its OATA who start shouting and waving their arms at the key decision-makers on our behalf. 

Don’t forget that the AQUA trade show was conceived by OATA members, and is now the biggest aquatic only trade show in Europe, held right here in the UK.

So here’s to the next 12 months as an OATA member, and another 20 years at least, (I hope,) in the aquatic trade! 

For more information on OATA or if you are interested in becoming a member, click here.

Jeremy Gay

Author of three fishkeeping books and lifelong fishkeeper. Experience includes editor of Practical Fishkeeping magazine, editor of Pet Product Marketing magazine, multi award- winning livestock manager and aquatic store manager.