After the release of the movie “Finding Nemo,” clown fish populations on coral reefs have been declining, presumably due to the popularity of having a fish that looks like the one from the movie in household aquariums. Scientists with the University of Queensland and Flinders University are worried that similar impacts could be felt on blue tang fishes with the upcoming release of “Finding Dory.”
Some of the impacts that clownfish have felt thanks to the popularity of the earlier movie include local extinction off of reefs in areas including the Philippines and parts of Thailand. American consumers, it seems, are driving the losses by purchasing around 400,000 of the 1 million or so clownfish sold each year.
Overfishing due to pet demand, along with rising ocean temperatures and ocean acidification, has all led the Center for Biological Diversity to petition the National Marine Fisheries Service to put clownfish on the Endangered Species List, the Los Angeles Times reported in 2012.
Blue tangs don’t do well in tanks, researchers say, and losing them on reefs could accelerate their losses. So the best thing that consumers can do is to try and get their aquarium fishes from hatcheries, instead of coral reefs, that raise fish in sustainable ways.