U.S. Senators and Representatives recommending a ban on the international trade of wildlife. Here is our response from the aquarium trade and PIJAC.

by | Apr 25, 2020 | Events, Featured Article | 0 comments

Original article can be found on PIJAC (Pet Industry Joint Advisory Counsel’s website here.  This is an updated open letter with signatures.

A few days ago, U.S. Senators and Representatives recommended a ban on the international trade of wildlife. Here is our response from the aquarium trade and PIJAC.  Thank you MASNA for standing up for our aquarium side.

Open Letter to Senators Cory A. Booker and Lindsey O. Graham and Representatives Mike Quigley and Michael T. McCaul Regarding Your Requested Ban on the International Trade of Live Wildlife

We in the responsible pet care community are extremely concerned by the threat to human health posed by the rapidly evolving coronavirus pandemic, and applaud many of the steps taken by government at all levels to help control the spread of disease and support economically devastated Americans. However, we urge you to reconsider the sweeping prohibition on international live wildlife trade that you requested in your April 8, 2020, letter to the WHO, OIE and FAO. This action would provide little defense against future novel widespread infections, while doing dramatic damage to American businesses.

Like you, we are dedicated to preventing the spread of zoonotic diseases, but so-called “wet markets,” where novel human diseases have originated, should not be conflated with the broad legal international wildlife trade. The COVID-19 virus was not spread internationally through wildlife, but instead through human-to-human contact. Wildlife has been legally imported into the U.S. for over 50 years without creating a zoonotic incident, and these animals pose no more threat to human health than imported and domestic animals that are already in the country.

According to the 2019-2020 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, 67% of American households (84.9 million) own at least one pet—and the ideal pet for over 19.5 million of those households is a reptile, small mammal, bird or fish. Many of these are wild-caught or farm-raised internationally. Those that are raised domestically come from breeders who must regularly acquire new animals from unrelated bloodlines to prevent inbreeding. Halting the legal international trade of these species would eliminate the opportunity to enjoy the physical and emotional benefits of pet ownership, such as lowering stress and blood pressure, for millions of Americans.

Just one example is aquarium stores. A ban on the importation of wildlife would unnecessarily devastate the aquarium hobby, as fish pose zero risk of being infected and carrying COVID-19, and pose little risk of carrying any zoonotic disease. There are very few marine species collected or bred in the U.S., so a ban would end saltwater aquarium keeping and the thousands of American small businesses that provide equipment, fish, supplies and maintenance services to those hobbyists would be forced to close.

Captive breeding of reptiles and arachnids has been highly successful in the United States, but these programs must continually have access to new breeding stock to ensure genetic diversity. Breeders often bring in new animals from responsible, well-regulated overseas breeding facilities. Also, many of the reptiles, small mammals such as ferrets, and arachnids bred in the United States are exported to other countries. A ban on wildlife trade would destroy the market for those artisanal breeding operations, which are often small local businesses.

We ask you to work with the WHO, OIC and FAO to ensure that these agencies’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic focuses on the true threat from “wet markets” and does not create unintended consequences for responsible pet owners and businesses. Live animals for the pet trade have moved between countries successfully for decades under a heavily regulated and internationally monitored system that protects both human and animal health. A broad ban on the existing legal trade in live animals will do little to protect Americans from another novel zoonotic disease outbreak. It will only do great harm to already suffering small businesses and deprive millions of families of the joys of pet ownership.

If you have any questions or need additional information, we in the responsible pet care community stand ready to help you develop thoughtful and science-based measures to safeguard both human and animal health and well-being.



Mike Bober, President and CEO, Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council

Steve King, CEO, American Pet Products Association

Vic Mason, President, World Pet Association

Celeste Powers, President, Pet Industry Distributors Association

Kevin Erickson, President, Marine Aquarium Societies of North America

Phil Goss, President, United States Association of Reptile Keepers

Robin M. Turner, Executive Director, Animal Transportation Association

Patti Strand, President, National Animal Interest Alliance


Pet care community (updated 04/23/20):

Bill Trufant, President, B & B Pet Stop, Inc., Mobile, AL
John Sherwood, President, Safari Pets Inc., Cabot, AR
Pam Munici, President and Director, North American Pet Pig Association, Gilbert, AZ
Eric Heaslett, Territory Manager, Central Pet, Tuscon, AZ
Jonathan Williamson, Vice President Animal Care & Merchandising, Petco Animal Supplies, San Diego, CA
Carl Crawford, CEO, Pohina Inc., San Pedro, CA
Cynthia DeLillo, Corporate Accounts Manager, Quality Marine, Los Angeles, CA
Shareen King, President, Complete Aquatic Systems, Gardena, CA
Scott Rath, Vice President, Central Pet, Santa Fe Springs, CA
Julie Hutchings, CO-Owner/V.P., Mello Sales Group, Inc., Napa, CA
Robert Miller, CFO, Sea Dwelling Creatures, Los Angeles, CA
Gary Bagnall, President/CEO, Zoo Med Laboratories, Inc., San Luis Obispo, CA
Chris Clevers, President, Hikari Sales USA, Inc., Hayward, CA
Ken Fontes, CFO, Zoo Med Laboratories, Inc., San Luis Obispo, CA
Anthony Quintero, Owner, Koi Enterprises, West Sacramento, CA
Ryan Westbrook, Territory Manger, Zoo Med Laboratories, Inc., Oxnard, CA
Rita Zarate, VP Sales and Marketing, Zoo Med Laboratories, Inc., San Luis Obispo, CA
Thushara Weerakkody, S.W. Sales Director, Zoo Med Laboratories, Inc., San Luis Obispo, CA
Kamuran Tepedelen, Owner, Bushmaster Reptiles Inc., Boulder, CO
Peach Reid, President and CEO, Fish Mart, West Haven, CT
Thomas Allison, Northeast Sales Director, Zoo Med Laboratories, Inc., Windsor, CT
Martin Hoeber, Owner, Super Cichlids Inc., Dover, DE
Jason Diaz, President, 5-D Tropical Inc., Plant City, FL
Scott Hughes, Owner, Deep Blue Seas, LLC, Vero Beach, FL
Daniel Bzdyl, Regional Sales Manager, Hikari, Ocala, FL
Deborah Richardson, Territory Manager, Central Pet, Melbourne, FL
Brittany Hollon, Chief Operations Officer, Urban Tropical, Inc., LAKELAND, FL
Mrs. Kelly Elannan, Lily Pad Pets, Melbourne, FL
Alexander Dillard, President, Top Shelf Aquatics, Orlando, FL
Steven Bayes, President, Top Shelf Aquatics, Saint Cloud, FL
Kevin Burda, President, Top Shelf Aquatics, Winter Park, FL
Katie Velie, Manager, Nahacky’s Aquarium, Melbourne, FL
Sandy Moore, President, Segrest Farms Inc., Gibsonton, FL
Crystal Cole, General Manager, Cindi’s Pet and Aquarium Center, Vero Beach, FL
Joe Guenther, Owner, Sanctuary Aquarium, Inc., Key Largo, FL
Ryan Rothwell, Owner, Tropical Fish Emporium, Kaneohe, HI
Robert Lawrence, President, Koolau Pets Inc., Kaneohe, HI
Joe Shilkus, Purchasing Director, Apet Incorporated, East Dundee, IL
John Cwaygel, President, Sailfin Pet Shop Inc., Champaign, IL
Carl Swanson, Owner, Petland Rockford, Rockford, IL
Shane Ager, Regional Sales Director, Zoo Med Laboratories, Inc., Dekalb, IL
Craig Brummell, Chairman, PIJAC Canada, Ottawa, Canada
Dominic Whitmee, Chief Executive, Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association (OATA), Westbury, England
Svein A. Fossaa, Secretary General, Norwegian Pet Trade Association (NZB), Grimstad, Norway
Rebecca Hertel, Owner, Petland West Wichita, Andover, KS
Joey Bennett, Owner, Aquarium Central LLC, Lafayette, LA
Jeffrey San Souci, Director of Marketing, Hagen Group, Mansfield, MA
Steve Sotelo, Exo Terra Division Manager, Hagen Group, Mansfield, MA
Joe Cray, Eastern Regional Manager, Rolf C. Hagen Group, Glen Arm, MD
Eric Edwards, Owner, Fins & Critters Inc. Shelby, NC
William Gent, Bills Pet Shop, New Bern, NC
Derek Skipper, Regional Sales Director, Zoo Med Laboratories, Inc., Forest City, NC
Thomas Barnes, CFO, Carolina Designer Dragons, Inc., Charlotte, NC
Bethany Stockman, Owner, Laconia Pet Center, Laconia, NH
D. Patrick Donston, President, Absolutely Fish Inc., Clifton, NJ
Brian Dunleavy, Owner, Reefco Aquariums, Green Brook, NJ
Audrey Dunleavy, Employee, Reefco Aquariums, Bound Brook, NJ
Steve Vigorito, Territory Manager, Central Garden & Pet, Newton, NJ
Larry Bowens, Reefco Aquariums, Morris Plains, NJ
Warren Van Varick, Owner, SealevelAquarium, Pinebrook, NJ
Jim Seidewand, President, Pet World, Inc., Rochester, NY
Paul Juszczak, Director of Sales and Marketing, Marshall Pet Products, Wolcott, NY
Barry Berman, President, Grandma Maes Country Naturals, LLC, New York, NY
Alan Cohen, President, Blue Ribbon Pet Products, Inc. Bohemia, NY
Vincent Russo, President, Cutting Edge Herpetological Inc., Kings Park, NY
John Mack, CEO , Reptiles by Mack, Xenia, OH
Tim Norsen, Vice President of Sales, Vitakraft Sun Seed Inc., Weston, OH
Elizabeth Kunzelman, Director of Public Affairs, Petland, Chillicothe, OH
James Gintner, CEO & President, Eye Catching Coral, Vienna, OH
Noah Criswell, NW Sales Director, Zoo Med Laboratories, Inc., Lake Oswego, OR
Joe Nichols, Owner, Joe Knows Reefs, North Charleston, SC
Scott Shiles, Owner, extremecorals.com, Hurst, TX
Jason Schneider, Owner, FISH R US, Conroe, TX
Kevin Willyerd, Owner, Animal Ark, Kingwood, TX
Wayne Thomas, Manger, Dallas North Aquarium, Carrolton, TX
Tony Hartian, Vice President Sales, Rolf C. Hagen (USA) Corp., Yorktown, VA
Jeff Nethers, President, Winchester Aquarium & Pet, Winchester, VA
Jeff Severts, Owner, Simply Pets, Chesapeake, VA
Alex Orleans, President, Northwest Zoological Supply, Everett, WA


Original article can be found on PIJAC (Pet Industry Joint Advisory Counsil’s website here.

  • Afishionado

    Afishionado : a person who likes, knows about, and appreciates a usually fervently pursued interest or activity. (In this case, fish, corals and reef keeping). We are group of passionate hobbyists who are all about educating, creating innovative contents and providing eye popping visuals for hobbyists of all levels.


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