Round goldfish bowls could be banned because they cause fish ‘stress’

Round goldfish bowls could be banned because they cause fish ‘stress’

Traditional goldfish bowls cause stress to fish and should be banned on animal welfare grounds, according to a Belgian minister as part of an overhaul of the country’s animal rights laws.

Bernard Clerfayt, the Brussels city region’s minister for animal welfare, is drawing up a list of “problematic” items he believes are damaging to the mental well-being of pets, which he will submit to the national parliament in the hope of creating a new “Animal Welfare Code”.

As part of a reform of 35-year-old legislation, he also wants the sale of fireworks, electric collars and glue traps to be restricted.

“We are examining, as part of the development of the future Animal Welfare Code, a list of objects for which we could make a general request for a ban on marketing,” Mr Clerfayt told a local newspaper in Brussels.

“For example, we know that the round jar has an impact on fish stress. Fireworks or certain types of dog collars such as electric collars also raise questions about animal welfare.”

He wants federal ministers to look into imposing a sales ban on round goldfish bowls because an outright ban on the type of aquarium would require police to inspect peoples’ homes.

“We are not going to start controlling the size of the aquarium in each household. Prohibiting the sale of bowls would be much more effective,” he added.

Bigger and different shaped tanks are said to be less stressful for pet fish, Mr Clerfayt told the publication.

Belgium’s federal government is responsible for regulating the sale of goods and services in the country.

Mr Clerfayt is hoping to secure the support of local ministers from the French-speaking Walloon region and the Dutch-speaking Flemish region to ramp up pressure on Brussels to impose a ban.

Belgium has tough animal cruelty laws

Belgium already has some of the world’s toughest animal cruelty laws.

In Wallonia, the worst cases of animal cruelty are punishable with prison sentences of up to 15 years and fines of up to €10 million (£8.4 million).

Flemish MPs imposed a ban on the ritual slaughter of animals by religious groups in 2019, requiring animals to be stunned before they are killed.

Ben Weyts, the region’s minister for animal welfare, previously introduced a ban on fireworks, voted in to protect animals, but it was overturned by Belgium’s constitutional court, which said the move was excessive.

“We would like the issue of animal welfare to be part of the ban,” he said.

The use of glue traps has also been banned, but DIY shops across the country are still allowed to sell them, creating a loophole Mr Clerfayt wants closed.

Even property laws introduced last year were partly designed to help owners retrieve wandering pets from their neighbour’s gardens.

Like Britons, Belgians love their pets. It was the first country in the world where hotel guests are allowed to rent a goldfish for the night to ward off loneliness.

The airport hotel in Charleroi started renting goldfish in 2017 for €3.20 a night, a service that was said to be popular with business travellers.