Don't free your fish by flushing, kids –

Don’t free your fish by flushing, kids Published:  01 October, 2003

An appeal has been made by animal welfare groups to children who may be planning to liberate their pet fish after watching the latest cinema animated adventure.

After hundreds of children ‘liberated’ their pet fish down the toilet following the launch of “Finding Nemo” in the United States, two environmental organisations are keen to avert a similar catastrophe when the animated block buster opens in the UK on 3rd

October 2003.

There are better ways to ‘save the fish’ and many types of tropical fish do need specialist care, advise scientists at the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre, (UNEP-WCMC) in Cambridge, UK, and the Marine Aquarium Council (MAC), Hawaii, USA.

Some import and retail companies showed a 20 percent rise in consumer

demand for clown fish and other marine aquarium animals after the film

opened in the States earlier this summer.

To coincide with the UK premiere, UNEP-WCMC is launching a groundbreaking report, ‘From Ocean to Aquarium: The Global Trade In Marine Ornamentals’, which for the first time uses industry data to highlight the most threatened tropical species and makes suggestions and recommendations on their future protection.

“Finding Nemo” tells the story of a Clown fish who becomes separated from his dad in the Great Barrier Reef, and ends up in a dentist’s office. One scene shows Nemo return to the sea via a spit basin. After its launch in the US fish traders and plumbing companies received numerous calls from worried parents who found their children had tried to liberate their fish after watching the film.

Paul Holthus, the president of the Marine Aquarium Council, a non-profit marine conservation group based in Hawaii, said: “Finding Nemo is a very engaging film, and parents who already have

aquariums need to explain to their children that the fish will not survive if they are flushed.”

He added: “We also urge parents whose children are inspired by the film to start a saltwater tank, to think carefully before buying tropical marine fish for their children.”

Nine-year-old Alexander Gould, who is the voice of Nemo, is concerned about the safety of the fish and wants to encourage the public to buy fish from responsible aquarists. He said: “It is okay to keep some types of fish if you know how to look after them. The Marine Aquarium Council makes sure aquarium fish are captured in a kind manner. It does this to protect the coral reefs, because if the coral is gone, the fish will be gone. The whole world depends on coral and fish, and they depend on each other.”

The campaign has received a boost from researchers at UNEP-WCMC with the release of the ‘From Ocean to Aquarium’ report, the most comprehensive survey ever undertaken of the global trade in marina aquaria.

According to the report over 20 million tropical fish, including 1471

species ranging from the sapphire devil to the copperhead butterflyfish, are being harvested annually to supply the booming marine aquarium trade in Europe and the United States.

It says that a further nine to 10 million animals, including molluscs,

shrimps and anemones and involving some 500 species, are also being traded to supply tanks in homes, public aquaria and dentists’ surgeries. Up to 12 million stony corals are being harvested, transported and sold annually.