On-line artical, "reef" status post NEMO.

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David Winther

Active member
Jul 1, 2003
Oak Harbor, WA
Reefs at risk after Disney film

21 November 2003 07:44

A booming trade in aquarium fish, sparked by Finding Nemo, the Disney film featuring clownfish, is endangering the wildlife of the Vanuatu archipelago in the South Pacific.

Over the past year about 200 000 fish and other marine creatures have been exported from the country, and local tour firms are warning that the reefs will be at risk if the tropical fish trade is not regulated.

"It's a very popular trade and on the back of Finding Nemo it's boomed," said Heidi Bartram, of Vanuatu's fisheries department. "It's developing faster than anyone can keep up with. There's a lack of understanding of reef systems and how fast they recover. Understanding them is hard enough without having the added pressure of people taking the fish."

Concern about the trade and its sustainability is so great the government has set up a committee to examine the issue.

The four species of anenome fish in Vanuatu -- which are related to, but do not include, the clownfish -- are classified within the archipelago's top 10 most exported species.

Concern has grown among local dive firms following the arrival, in April, of a US-owned company, Sustainable Reef Supplies, which employs 20 people to fish the waters around Vanuatu's main island, Efate, and which dominates the export market. The firm flies out up to 8 000 wild animals a month from the capital, Port Vila.

Rare tropical fish can fetch more than $510 an animal in the US and Australian markets, although clownfish can sell for $17.

Rod Habla, president of the Vanuatu tour operators' association, said aquarium firms had to ensure sites were not overfished. "The problem is managers will tell collectors not to go into restricted areas but at the same time give them a list of the species they want."

Dive operators say that aquarium firms have over-fished several popular scuba sites, including Hat Island where they claim 38 000 fish were taken within one month this year.

Local businesses pay custom fees to traditional, Melanesian landowners for the rights to fish or dive.

According to the United Nations, the global aquarium trade deals in 11-million tropical fish a year, with Britain alone importing 110 000 clownfish annually. - Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003


Jul 1, 2003
It really makes me think that there is some serious money making potential in aquaculture...if it gets regulated, supply get limited, costs go up...