Flushing Nemo

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Alexander Gould, the actor who plays the voice of Nemo in Disney's Finding Nemo, is helping two conservation organisations get across their message to youngsters that flushing your fish down the loo is not a good way to set them free.

The United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) and the Marine Aquarium Council (MAC) launched the initiative following the deaths of hundreds of fish in the USA caused by young fishkeepers attempting to liberate their pets by flushing them down the toilet.

The animated film, which shows how the young clownfish Nemo was separated from his father after being caught by a diver and placed in an aquarium in a dental surgery, includes scenes of the fish being released into the wild via a spit basin.

In the USA, the film caused an increase in the sales of marine fish by as much as 20%.

MAC's President, Paul Holthus warned cinema goers to think carefully before committing to a marine aquarium. "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. 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."

The launch of Finding Nemo in the UK on Monday coincided with the release of the UNEP-WCMC report, 'From Ocean to Aquarium: The Global Trade In Marine Ornamentals', which uses industry data to highlight problems in the trade and makes suggestions for the protection of marine organisms. The report emphasised the importance of the marine aquarium trade in placing a "value" on natural resources.

Look out in the November issue of Practical Fishkeeping for an in-depth guide to the pros and cons of captive breeding, plus a list of what you can get and where to get it from.