Ornamental fish bring delight to many people. In Victoria, thousands of people keep ornamental fish as pets. A smaller number of people are avid ornamental fish hobbyists.
The Victorian ornamental fish industry is estimated to be worth tens of millions of dollars each year. Around 200 retail aquarium shops and a significant number of importers and breeders provide the public with a wide choice of fish and supplies.
Unfortunately, a small number of ornamental fish have become established in the wild in Australia and have caused problems by displacing native species and disturbing the natural ecology of our waterways. To help protect our natural aquatic environment, the Victorian Fisheries Act 1995 has provisions to declare a species to be a ‘noxious aquatic species’ (NAS). The declaration of species as noxious enables powers that prohibit the possession and further spread of species.
Recently, to improve the consistency of ornamental fish management across Australian state and territory jurisdictions, Victoria has committed to the national strategy titled A Strategic Approach to the Management of Ornamental Fish in Australia. The aim of the national strategy is to identify ornamental fish species that have a high risk of becoming aquatic invasive pests if released into the wild and to declare them as NAS under the relevant legislation in each jurisdiction. The national strategy also seeks to encourage responsible ornamental fish ownership by increasing public awareness of the potential risks posed to the environment by the release of such species into the wild.
Public consultation will be undertaken to ensure that people can have a say about each species proposed for addition to the Victorian NAS list.
Fisheries Victoria encourages anyone with an interest in ornamental fish to periodically check this webpage for opportunities to make public comment on proposed additions to the Victorian NAS list.