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EU to ban Water Hyacinths

Blog post written by Gary | 15 January 2016 | Category: Pond plants

We have been informed by our pond plant supplier the EU will banning Eichhornia crassipes major - Water hyacinth. Below are excerpts from our supplier explaining why the Water hyacinth should not be banned.


Water hyacinth


Why Eichhornia does not meet the criteria

Eichhornia is on the list of species of EU concern and will therefore be banned from next year unless people write to their MPs and explain the detrimental effect this regulation will have on their business while not benefiting the environment.

We support a regional ban as Eichhornia is invasive in hot climates and should not be kept or sold in Southern Europe. But in Northern Europe it is not and will not be a threat to the environment even with global warming predictions stretching to 2080.

The regulation states regional cooperation should be explored between Member States concerned with the same species that are not able to establish a viable population in a large part of the Union. If Eichhornia is not a species that should be considered for regional rather than Europe-wide regulation, then surely there is no species that will ever be considered for regional control.

Article 4 of the regulation states for a species to be included it must be necessary that concerted action at Union level is required to prevent their introduction, establishment or spread and the inclusion on the Union list will effectively prevent, minimise or mitigate their adverse impact. However regulations are in place in Spain and Portugal and they appear to be effective. There is no evidence that concerted action at Union level is required, nor is it likely that the inclusion on the union list will prevent, minimise or mitigate their adverse impact. This is a perfect example of where regional controls should be used. If regional controls should not be used to control Eichhornia which cannot grow in most of Europe, when will regional controls ever be applied to any species?

The best alternative to Eichhornia is Nymphoides peltata (Fringed water lily) a native of England, a plant that can be treated as a floating plant as you can just place it in the pond and it will grow well; it is good for cleaning water as it grows fast. But, Nymphoides is invasive, it does not die in winter, it is not native in Ireland where it is classed as a problematic invasive alien. Even native plants in the wrong place cause environmental damage and Nymphoides has caused issues, whereas Eichhornia will never be an issue in Northern Europe. Banning Eichhornia in Northern Europe will be detrimental to businesses and the environment.

You do not need to be an expert to know that Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) and Giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) are invasive, costly to remove, damage property and are harmful to health. However they have been omitted from the list. The regulation is specifically intended to ensure the most problematic plants are tackled as an upmost priority. Unfortunately the list means the regulation falls far short of its good intentions.

Eichhornia crassipes major - Water hyacinth

  • Eichhornia has been sold in the UK for well over 50 years with NO detrimental effect to the environment
  • It is not hardy so cannot survive a UK winter
  • It very rarely survives a UK winter in an unheated greenhouse
  • It rarely flowers outside in the UK as the climate is too cool
  • It is too cold and there is insufficient light in the UK for it to set seed
  • Even with global warming, the NNSS risk assessment shows it is not a risk to the UK or similar environments
  • It has been recognised it cannot be invasive in this country hence its recommendation for removal from WCA Schedule 9 recently by a working group
  • There is nothing else like it to replace it in a pond
  • It is excellent at removing nitrates and toxins from the pond, improving water quality, reducing algae and keeping the water clear
  • There are already regulations in place to prevent its sale in Southern Europe where it could be an issue, due to their very different climate, making an EU ban unnecessary
  • If this species can be banned in the UK for no environmental gain, it is of great concern as to what will be banned in future