Fondation Franz Weber

The unregulated trade of marine ornamental fish: How many Nemos and Dorys are imported to Europe every year?

In her most recent study on the trade of marine ornamental fish, our marine biologist Dr. Monica Biondo has teamed up with Dr. Ricardo Calado to search for solutions that can finally shine a light into the dark corners of the international trade of marine ornamental fish.

Europe, Switzerland included, is one of the key markets for marine ornamental fish. Their import to Europe and their circulation among the various countries should be regulated. However, the variety and the geographic origin of these coral fish is largely unknown; how many Nemos and Dorys are imported to Europe every year, and where do they come from?

This lack of knowledge is hard to fathom, given that all these animals are transported to Europe by air and therefore need to go through customs at international airports. So how is it possible for there not to be any reliable data? Without valid data on the marine ornamental fish trade, it is virtually impossible to verify claims about sustainability peddled by the marine aquarium industry.

The EU, like Switzerland, already operates a platform that could enable a reliable collection of information, and shine a light on this murky industry: the Trade Control and Expert System (TRACES). This disease prevention database collects data on the import of live animals, feed or plants. TRACES could easily start monitoring marine ornamental fish right now, so that Europe can finally know for sure how many Nemos and Dorys are being imported, and where they come from. It would then be possible to properly, accurately document the trade of marine ornamental fish in Europe.


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