PLANT piracy is rife across the Northern Rivers, according to David Manby, and local nurseries are beginning to feel the pinch.
The Lismore Garden Centre co-owner said that every weekend, hundreds of plants propagated from species registered under plant breeder's rights regulation were being sold at markets across the region.
"It's like making fake Nike shoes and selling them illegally at markets," he said.
Plant Breeder's Rights (PBR) are used to protect new varieties of plants that are distinguishable, uniform and stable.
A PBR is legally enforceable and gives the owner exclusive rights to commercially use it, sell it, direct the production, sale and distribution of it, and receive royalties from the sale of plants.
Mr Manby said while he had nothing against people selling plants at markets, he said he had spotted both Sun Patience and Lilli Pilli Cascade being sold without complying with PBR regulations at several local markets.
He said the business responsible for propagating the plants and registering them with PBR was missing out on the royalties for the sale of the species it created.
"To me, we need a bit of an even playing field and we need to protect people who create things, and that is what the PBRs are designed to do."
Mr Manby said the recent explosion in the number of markets being held across the region had seen the number of plant sellers grow.
"In Lismore alone we have five markets a week and most of those have plant sellers at them, which I have no problem with as long as they stick to the rules."
Lismore Car Boot Market manager Marny Bonner initially said she was not aware of PBR regulations that plant sellers had to comply with.
Since being made aware of PBRs, Ms Bonner said she had compiled a pamphlet to issue to all relevant stallholders.
"Spot checks are carried out at markets from time to time by PBR inspectors and the fine for unauthorised selling of plants can be up to $22,000," Ms Bonner said.
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