Popular Pond Plants Banned by the EU
Four popular species of pond plant have now been banned by the EU under the Invasive Species Regulation.
Water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), Curly Waterweed (Lagarosiphon major), Cabomba (Cabomba caroliniana) and American Skunk cabbage (Lysichiton americanus) have been placed on the banned list. This list now includes 37 different species and in its updated form came into force 3 August 2016.
[caption id="attachment_213" align="aligncenter" width="512"] Water Hyacinth - Photo by Ted Center. (USDA.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons[/caption][caption id="attachment_214" align="aligncenter" width="512"] Cabomba caroliniana by Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via [/caption]
[caption id="attachment_215" align="aligncenter" width="500"] American skunk cabbage by USDA Forest Service Alaska Region via ()[/caption]
What Action Should You Take?
If these plants already feature in your pond then you don't have to remove them but you do have to ensure that they do not spread elsewhere. However, retailers have only twelve months to clear their shelves of these species. The new list also includes the Red-eared terrapin (Trachemys scripta elegans) which you may also have in your pond. If so, then you must not allow your animals to breed henceforth and you cannot pass them on to other pond keepers.
Is this all overkill?
This all sounds a little draconian doesn’t it? Some experts also suggest that the measures with regard to water hyacinth are unnecessary as this plant cannot survive UK winters and so all of the plants in this country will die out naturally.
Dominic Whitmee, Chief Executive of the Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association (OATA) has said:
"It’s very disappointing that despite my predecessor Keith's concerted efforts the European Commission failed to recognise the scientific evidence and the economic impacts on legitimate businesses in the UK where there is clearly no threat of invasion from Water hyacinth, especially when measures are already in place to address the threat in countries where there has been a problem."
What is the Water Hyacinth?
The water Hyacinth is native to the Amazon basin and is a free floating and fast growing flowering species. If not controlled it will quickly cover lakes and ponds entirely. This is problematic as the plants will then prevent water from flowing and will block sunlight from reaching native plants. The Water hyacinths will also starve the pond water of oxygen and this can kill fish and turtles. So there are issues with this plant but as it dies off in the winter, the problems are not really relevant here in the UK.
More Species of Pond Plant to be Banned
The EU is no stranger to seemingly pointless regulations. Unfortunately the European Commission is already working on a further list of species which looks set to include more plants currently sold in the UK. So watch this space. Concerted efforts will be made to ensure that European Commission takes account of the scientific facts and the impact on UK businesses. However, the UK's ability to influence any decisions made could now be diminished due to the Brexit vote.
It will be interesting to see what happens next but the outcome may not be a popular one with pond keepers or the aquatics industry. However, it may not be too long before we are no longer members of the EU and will need to establish our own regulations.
- Featured image of a European Union flag by D. Nikolov via ()