Clownfish off the hook as fishermen join fight against global warming

A A A

Clownfish, made famous by the Disney film Finding Nemo, are to be left alone by fishermen after their Great Barrier Reef habitat was devastated by coral bleaching, a phenomenon associated with global warming.

The fish, which are found in numerous colours but most often are orange with white stripes, depend on anemones fish-eating animals with poisonous tentacles. They eat morsels of fish left by the anemones, and are protected by them. In return, clownfish protect anemones and clean them by eating dead tentacles.

Clownfish are popular with aquariums, particularly since the film. But in one area of the reef, near Keppel Island in north Queensland, commercial operators have voluntarily agreed not to catch the fish or their host anemones. Several episodes of coral bleaching have reduced the number of anemones and the fish that depend on them.

That is bad news for the tourism industry, as snorkellers and divers at the Great Barrier Reef hope to see the clownfish underwater.

The agreement was reached between operators and the Barrier Reef authority, as a step towards allowing the reef to regenerate. Lyle Squire, a commercial fisherman and industry representative, told The Australian newspaper: "We recognise the importance of these fish to the tourism industry.

"People come from all over the world to snorkel the Keppels, so we are happy to exercise our stewardship and stop taking clownfish from those reefs."

Mr Squire, whose family has run aquariums in Cairns for many years, said the voluntary moratorium was a precautionary measure to allow the clownfish's habitat to recover from bleaching. Coral bleaching is associated with climate change and warmer sea temperatures.

"There is a real worry that they [clownfish] will become less common on the reef, and that will be a tragedy not just for us, but for all users of the reef," he said.

The agreement was welcomed by the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries. A spokeswoman described it as "an important step towards effective co-management of this small but economically viable fishery".

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority said the moratorium would help to protect the reef, which is considered to be under serious threat from global warming and coral bleaching. "Such an initiative is probably a world first in addressing this growing problem," it said.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Apprentice Telesales & Marketing Opportunities

£10400 - £14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing, ambitious, en...

Ashdown Group: Deputy Editor (Magazine Publishing) - Wimbledon - £23-26K

£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Deputy Editor - Wimbledon...

Ashdown Group: Editor (Magazines/Publishing) - Wimbledon - £26-30K

£26000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Editor (Magazines/Publish...

Day In a Page

Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests