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Should fish still be fairground prizes?

As summer in the UK comes to a close, and fairground lovers make their last visits of the holiday season, some people have been reflecting on the ethicality of the prizes on offer.

For instance, when a goldfish is won, what happens next?

Pet shop owner Holly Homer, from Barry, says “People see goldfish as just fish, but they are sentient beings as well.”

Since 23-year-old Holly has encountered several customers in her shop “swinging fish around in a bag” demanding a tank, she has decided to launch a petition to the Welsh Assembly, calling for the ban on fairground goldfish.

Although Ms Homer’s petition is the first of its kind in Wales, it is not the first of its kind in the UK this summer.

‘Injustice doesn’t go away unless we confront it’

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Theresa Higginson

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Theresa says goldfish at fairgrounds are not regarded as having any value except monetary

Theresa Higginson, from Biggleswade, launched a similar petition at the beginning of the summer calling for the council to ban fish being sold at their local fair.

“Fish feel pain and suffer just like us,” Theresa writes in her petition. “Like many other Biggleswade residents, I’ve witnessed the cruel treatment of these innocent beings, and have had enough.

“I have seen fish thrown across the road and kids swinging them around. Even when they end up in a loving home, they usually don’t live long due to health negligence whilst at the fair. They are not regarded as having any value except monetary.”

Theresa’s petition currently has more than 750 signatures and she is aiming for at least 1,000.

“Injustice doesn’t go away unless we confront it and get active, even if it’s just making a petition,” she told the BBC.

Theresa’s sentiment is echoed by many people online, who believe fairground fish are destined to a short and unhappy existence, though others have some a more positive association with their goldfish prizes.

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‘I love fish now’

Dylan recalls his love of fish began with a trip to the fairground as a child, though he now disagrees with them being sold as prizes.

“I personally don’t like the idea of fish being out in this weather in tiny little bags, tied up with no air exchange or filter for hours and hours on end,” he told the BBC.

“I love fish now and have a few aquariums, and that started due to these fairground fish, which I guess is the only upside I can think of. It sets people’s hopes up for the fish’s inevitable death a month or so down the line.”

The lifespan of fairground fish is believed by many to be not very long, though plenty of fish have defied the odds and gone on to live long, happy and healthy lives.

Down to the size of the pond

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These goldfish have survived for 10 years

One man from Doncaster told the BBC, he still has 17 fairground fish that are almost 10 years old.

“It’s just as easy to look after a fairground fish as it is a shop-bought one – as long it has a pond large enough to house it,” he said.

From rags to fishes

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Carol Sherwood

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When Francis was young, the rag-and-bone man gave out goldfish

Fairground fish prizes have been an age-old British tradition that Francis Sherwood, 72, from Hartlepool, remembers well. However, he does feel that it now belongs in the past.

“When I was young, the rag-and-bone man would give you a fish in exchange for your goods. I don’t know if that’s how it all started but that’s what I remember.

“I’ve never been for or against the idea, but I do think it’s outdated. It’s just not the done thing any more.”

Written by Jessica Sherwood, BBC UGC hub.



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