Re: [RML] Licencing fish breeders

Bruce Hansen (bhansen at
Wed, 16 Jul 1997 23:01:48 +1000

The previous definition of commercial aquaculture was related to surface
area (I think) and was impactical and unacceptable to many when it came to
the minimum end of the scale ( broadacre operations didn't seem to be a
problem - even if for tax purposes they didn't seem to make any money)

After considering this vexed question a lot over the past year or so it
seems to me (since the purpose of licensing revolves around money, profit
and taxes) that the only reasonable way to define a commercial operation is
one that makes a profit above a certain minimum.

Most hobbyists that I know seem to spend between $10 and $50 aweek over the
year on food, power, updating equipment etc so probably sales up to $2000 a
year would not be unreasonable before calling it a commercial operation.
Obviously there are some hobbyists with extensive collections that spend a
lot on them and would need to sell a lot of fry to make a profit and there
are small intensive commercial outfit that are very profiable e.g. breeding
thousands of Neon tetras per week in a 3mx3m room.I am sure there will be a
thousand exceptions/objections to the above but to me it is a reasonable
starting point.

I think there would be some resistance to the shopkeepers only buying from
those people who were prepared to supply their tax-file number and I guess
there will be some resistance from the commercial breeders to the idea
that there is any place at all in the market for the "backyarder".

However there are many non-commercial species that would disappear from the
hobby if it wasn't for the regular "handfuls" produced by the hobbyist
breeder. Often ( but not always) they also produce a superior quality

The truly "commercial breeder" should be able to produce a predictable
number of a nominated quality of each commercial species regularly at a
fair price from the wholesaler and make a reasonable living from it without
sqeezing out the hobbyist breeder who is often a significant part of his
market. Some wholesalers have been known to play off the commercial
breeders against each other too and eventually that leads to bad end
results all round.

I don't think it would be too difficult to have an orderly marketing scheme
for the ornamental fish industry if there was enough goodwill and
co-operation out there but there always seems to be someone who wants to
make the quick buck and sabotage everbody else.

bhansen at

> From: Rob Wager <raintree at>
> To: 'Rainbowfish Mailing List' <rainbowfish at>
> Subject: [RML] Licencing fish breeders
> Date: Wednesday, 16 July 1997 14:34
> Many Queenslanders are aware of our stupid law that states that any one
breeding any number, or any type of fish must have an aquaculture licence
if they intend sell or trade them. The law was never intended to apply to
hobbyist breeders, but it does. Hobbyists cannot afford, and shouldn't
need, to be licenced.
> I was contacted (off the record) by a concerned government employee, who
wanted to know if I had any ideas how to define a hobbyist or commercial
breeder so that the law could be amended to exclude hobbyists from
requiring a licence.
> A positive step I feel.
> But after considerable discussion we could not come up with a workable
> Does anyone have any knowledge of laws in any state in any country about
breeding fish for sale? Anyone have an idea how distinguish between people
in the hobby and people who are trying to make a buck out of breeding fish.
> I'm sure all the Queensland hobbyists would appreciate your help.
> p.s. This is not a paying job for me, just something I would like to see
cleared up as soon as possible.
> Rob Wager
> Raintree Aquatics Pty Ltd
> Aquatic Environment and Aquaculture Specialists
> 1002 Caboolture River Road
> Phone: 07 5496 7939 Facsimile: 07 5497 0022
> Email: raintree at