Asia Dive News : Clownfish gets protection in Thailand
The Clown fish will be listed as a protected species under a new regulation to be issued by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. The species was largely known only to divers and aquarists before springing into public prominence with a starring role in the Pixar animated movie Finding Nemo.
The decision to place the fish under protection came after marine ecologists reported that finding Nemo was becoming harder in Thai waters over recent years. They attributed the drop in numbers to the deterioration of coral reefs and the demands of the growing number of aquariums in Thailand and neighbouring countries.
''We hope that putting the clown fish on the protected list will at least scare poachers away from them. However, more work is needed to keep this precious creature in its wild habitat,'' said Pinsak Suraswadi, a marine expert of the Marine and Coastal Resources Department.
Clown fish will be one of 110 fish species protected under the new regulation on environmental protection zoning, which covers six Andaman coastal provinces _ Krabi, Phangnga, Phuket, Ranong, Trang, and Satun.
Under the regulation, which is awaiting the issuing of a royal decree, hunting of the protected fish species in the six provinces is strictly prohibited.
Until now, the only legislation protecting the brightly coloured Nemos has been the National Park Act, which bans all hunting activities in the park area, he said.
''But the national park law doesn't protect Nemos and other marine resources living outside the park area. The new regulation will protect these marine animals no matter where they are found,'' said Mr Pinsak.
The marine biologist also called on private aquarium operators across the country to stop taking clown fish from natural habitats and improve their aquarium management to reduce the death rate of clown fish and other species.
The more fish die in aquariums, the more they will be taken from the wild, he said.
Kantaporn Tongman, market manager of Siam Ocean World at Siam Paragon, said reports of the shrinking clown fish population in the sea had prompted the aquarium to revise its policy on displaying fish.
''We are ready to take the fish out of our exhibition tank if the ministry bans the showing of Nemo in an aquarium,'' said Ms Kantaporn.
However, she insisted that clown fish shown at Siam Ocean World were obtained from commercial clown fish breeding farms.
Source: Bangkok Post