Calls for council to ban live goldfish at Boston's May Fair

Residents in Boston are calling for the council to ban the ‘backwards’ and ‘inhumane’ tradition of live goldfish being given away as fairground prizes.

Some residents in Boston area calling for a ban on live goldfish 'prizes' at Boston May Fair. Image for illustration only.
Some residents in Boston area calling for a ban on live goldfish 'prizes' at Boston May Fair. Image for illustration only.

This year’s popular Boston May Fair saw the return of live goldfish prizes at one of the stalls – with fairgoers of all ages enjoying the chance to win one of the animals.

But not everyone was pleased to see this old fairground tradition still in practice in the town.

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Boston resident Phil Landshoft said: “I can't believe that in 2022 live goldfish are being given away as ‘prizes’ in Boston May Fair.

Boston man Phil Landshoft pictured with one of his four fish tanks.

"The ‘fish tanks’ that the particular fair attraction are selling to house the goldfish and the ‘food’ that they provide are also not suitable for purpose.

"I can guarantee that 90% of these fish will be dead within a week.”

Last year the RSPCA called for a nationwide ban of ‘pets as prizes’ – which is already illegal in Scotland. Some councils around the UK, including Bristol City Council, have already implemented a ban.

Mr Landshoft added: “Why is our council so backward as to allow this to be going on?

"They have the powers to stop this practice, as other councils have done.”

Others agreed, with many surprised to still see live goldfish being handed over at the fair.

Jane Hancock commented: “It is shocking that these little creatures are being treated as 'prizes'. It is inhumane and really should be stopped.

“The RSPCA launched a campaign last year to ban this practice obviously our council have taken no notice.”

Jen Rooflesslady added: “They are pond fish and not supposed to be in a small tank.”

However, some have said parents who let their children win the goldfish as prizes ‘make provisions to buy bigger tanks’ – while others claim the goldfish they won at Boston May Fair many years ago are ‘still going strong’ today.

In rare cases, Goldfish can live for up to 40 years in captivity and grow to a whopping 12 inches.

“These animals are not simply objects,” adds Mr Landshoft, who runs four aquariums and a pond at his Boston home.

“University studies have shown that goldfish can be trained, and it is a myth they only have a three second memory."

Offering advice to those who want to properly care for the goldfish they won at the fair, he added: “They need, at minimum, a 60 litre tank. The tank ideally needs to have been set up with a filter for at least a week before you put the goldfish in as the filter needs time to mature.

"The ideal situation would be for someone to have a big pond to put them in.”

Practical Fishkeeping magazine does not recommend goldfish bowls to house them, stating: “The vast majority of goldfish kept in bowls don't live very long, and while they're there they don't have a very good quality of life.”

They also say a filter is essential to prevent the build up of toxic wastes produced by fish.

The week-long Boston May Fair concluded on Saturday.

The Standard asked Boston Borough Council for a comment on the residents’ concerns over the use of live fish at May Fair.

A spokesperson simply said: “We can review it for future events.”