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Sale of Five Invasive Water Plants Banned Across UK

Jan 30, 2013 06:24 AM EST
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Water Fern
Water Fern
(Photo : Reuters)

In a bid to protect wildlife, the U.K. government announced Tuesday that the sale of five invasive aquatic plant species will be banned.

The five plants to be banned are - Water Fern, Parrot's Feather, Floating Pennywort, Australian Swamp Stone-crop (New Zealand Pygmyweed) and Water Primrose.

According to Environment Minister Richard Benyon, the impact of invasive water plant species costs the British economy £1.7 billion ($ 2.68 billion) every year.

"Tough laws to curb the sale of these plants could save the country millions of pounds as well as protecting wildlife such as fish and native plants," Benyon said in a statement. "But as well as saving money and protecting wildlife the ban will also help maintain access to rivers and lakes for anglers and watersport fans."

The invasive plants have been sold and planted in garden ponds, but they have escaped into the wild taking over from the native species, and affecting the most sensitive habitats. They are also posing a major threat to aquatic species like fish. The plants form dense mats in water, affecting light availability and reducing oxygen. This leads to a decline in the number of fish and other aquatic species. The plants also reduce access to waterways for boating and angling.

Taking into account these factors, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has decided to implement a ban on the sale of these invasive plants.

It will stop retailers from selling the invasive plants, however they have been given a year to adjust to the ban. Those involved in selling the banned plants will be slapped with a fine of up to £5,000 ($7,874) and possibly serve a term of up to six months in prison.

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