Will you get your beloved or valuable fish microchipped for their own safety?

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With the upcoming change in the law that will require all dog owners to have their canine friends fitted with a microchip for identification purposes, Southend Council staff have taken the initiative to launch a similar scheme that will benefit local owners of expensive fish. A week-long temporary fish microchipping centre will open from Monday 29th February outside Civic Centre in Southend, it and will remain open for seven days.

Gerald Gravell is heading up the Get Your Fish Chipped program on behalf of Southend Council, and we met up with him to find out more. He said: ‘Some of the finest varieties of koi carp can cost upwards of £100,000 each, and yet a number of owners think that a simple piece of netting will prevent thieves from stealing their pride and joy. Our solution, which we are pleased to be able to offer free of cost to all fish enthusiasts in the borough, is to insert a small microchip through one of the front gills that sits harmlessly just under the skin. The chip can then transmit the owner’s information to a special reader that works through contactless NFC (Near Field Communications) technology – think of it as turning your fish into an aquatic Oyster Card. All data is shared with the International Fish Identification Database, and this means that any fish retrieved abroad can be repatriated quickly.’

He continued: ‘This scheme isn’t just for expensive fish either, and we have free microchips available for all sizes – right down to the humble goldfish that may have more of a sentimental value than a financial one. As an added bonus, if a fox gets into your garden pond or lounge-based aquarium and drags the fish corpse into a neighbouring garden or property, the remains can be returned for a dignified burial.’

While the scheme has a number of prominent supporters within the council, many animal rights campaigners have expressed serious concerns about how the chip is inserted. A similar scheme that used barcoded suppositories in The Netherlands was withdrawn in 2014 after 63% of all fish sustained serious injuries.’