Due to a presentation to an EU committee on koi water parameters, (being part of the carp family), and how they are stored at shows. This appeared to be the right time to get a set of show rules in place that met all the EU requirements. Although produced for a meeting in Italy on the 8th September, it has not been possible to release them until presented to DEFRA and the Welsh Assembly Government amongst others. There will be a delay in comments from the governments of Northern Ireland and Scotland due to them having different acts to the Animal Welfare Bill.
The completed document was created in four days by a dedicated group of people. Since their introduction they have been requested by various other governmental departments and some Chartered Institutes. They have also been submitted to the RSPCA. The hardest part was in the middle of November having to find a name for the group. To avoid confusion with any other body, the UK Koi Policy Unit was decided on. Now the document has been presented officially to DEFRA and the Welsh Assembly Government on the 21st November it can now put into the public domain. The introductory letter below that went with the document explains everything.
UK KOI POLICY UNIT
NEW RULES AND GUIDELINES FOR ONE OR TWO DAY KOI SHOWS
Following the changes brought about by the Animal Welfare Act 2006, the need for a comprehensive set of Show Rules/Guidelines for koi shows has been paramount. The amateur side of the hobby represented by the British Koi Keepers Society (BKKS) for which I am the representative to DEFRA has unfortunately not been able to fulfil this remit.
As many other koi keeping countries, societies and various committees (both UK and EU) look towards the BKKS for advice and the setting of standards this has been a problem for too long. With the long delay in the updating of the BKKS show rules to cover changes since the enactment of the bill something had to be done. The need to have a set of rules/guidelines that are scientifically provable, legal and fit for purpose became apparent and four years later we as a society still do not have any. Whilst the society has a wealth of experience it is the lack of qualifications within the society that has stopped any progress in this matter to the detriment of UK koi keepers and the hobby. It is obvious that a new set of rules for koi shows was needed. One that can stand the scrutiny of scientific evaluation and legal rulings and can be safely referred to by such people as Environmental Health Officers and the RSPCA etc.
To fulfil the need for this new document I contacted Dr Paula Reynolds BSc, PhD, BA who is the scientific adviser to the Professional Koi Dealers Association. The PKDA are the professional stakeholders and the BKKS are the amateur stakeholders with DEFRA for the AWB. Paula is well known to DEFRA for her expertise in the aquatic sciences and other matters. The remit given to her was to produce a set of show rules and guidelines which met the three principals of scientifically provable, legal and fit for purpose. Paula has been involved in the formation of most of the BKKS show rules at some stage since 1996, although sadly not all her advice has been taken on board. Health is not a matter for an amateur society unless at least one of its members has a recognised scientific qualification. As we do not have anyone who meets that criteria, the document is approached from a welfare aspect and health has been omitted, the act is after all called a welfare act. The question of water quality was something Paula wished to leave to others and to that end it was jointly decided to have them addressed by Mr Sydney Mitchell MISPE who has been dealing with water sciences for many years either via his business (non koi) or through his services to UK koi keeping. Mr Mitchell’s work although known to both parties was submitted to Bernice Brewster BSc, Fls, MIFM, Cbiol, Mibiol and Keith Davenport of OATA as data based purely on water quality at koi shows. The data he has submitted has the approval of both Parties. The current BKKS rules are based on the OATA water quality table which was written about 16 years ago for indoor filtered systems and are not koi specific making them unsuitable for koi shows. We obtained permission from the South East Koi Club to use their site specific show rules as a guideline and enlisted a member of both the BKKS and the South East club Mr Bernard Woollands FITD (ret) for his expertise in training, document presentation and show benching/de-benching. The South East club produced their rules in consultation with Bernice Brewster (as above) and the late Louise Andrews Bsc.Hons, BVetMed, MSc, VetAqua, MRCVS and they have been approved by Dr Paula Reynolds (as above).
As their rules were written specifically for their own showground we extrapolated relevant parts and added and deleted as appropriate.
The benching guide and any other input is from the BKKS Judging Standards Committee (JSC) and are advisory, as the chairman of this committee I can personally endorse them. Appendix D (Benching procedures) has never been published anywhere before and is an indictment on the hobby that something so important has never been put into print. Word of mouth and good intentions are no longer an option under the act.
The use of best practice has been used at all time to cover such things as Bio Security, safe handling of koi, equipment requirements and relevant paperwork (legal or just show input).
The attached document has been submitted to various committees in its rough draft state but I can now enclose the finished article. It will be going to the BKKS 2011 AGM and, if ratified, then the document will be used by the society.
When there is a need for a Code of Practice for koi shows in the future to run concurrently with any future secondary legislation on Pet Fairs there will be a document in place which is scientifically provable, legal and fit for purpose and being used both here and abroad. It will also be a suitable guide line for Environmental Health Officers who may wish to issue a temporary Pet License (to a person who already holds one for their trading premises) for a koi show. They and the RSPCA may also find the document useful should they need to determine whether the welfare needs of the koi on display at a koi show are being met.
Gary Pritchard BKKS JSC Chairman