The "Nemo Effect": perception and reality of Finding Nemo's impact on marine aquarium fisheries

Militz, Thane A., and Foale, Simon (2017) The "Nemo Effect": perception and reality of Finding Nemo's impact on marine aquarium fisheries. Fish and Fisheries, 18 (3). pp. 596-606.

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Global audiences are increasingly being exposed to digital media with fictitious storylines that draw on animal characters involuntarily entering wildlife trades. An understudied problem in wildlife trade is the potential for motion pictures to influence their audience's desire to become more acquainted, often via acquisition, with animals portrayed in the films. The 2003 Disney motion picture Finding Nemo connected audiences with a wildlife trade already commonplace: the marine aquarium trade. In this trade, fisheries supply live coral reef organisms to millions of public and private aquaria worldwide. Here, we examine the perception and reality of Finding Nemo's impact (coined the Nemo Effect) on the fisheries of the species complex representing the film's primary protagonist Nemo (Amphiprion ocellaris/percula). Import and export figures show little evidence for fan-based purchases of wild-caught fish immediately (within 1.5years of release) following the film. We argue that the perceived impact on these species, driven by popular media with an emotive but scientifically uninformed approach to conserving coral reef ecosystems, can be more damaging to the cause of conservation than helpful. This perspective is intended to encourage marine aquarium trade stakeholders to consider the ecological and social repercussions of both media driven consumption and opposition to the trade. Using lessons learned from Finding Nemo, we discuss the likely impacts the sequel, Finding Dory, will have on wild populations of its protagonist Dory (Paracanthurus hepatus).

Item ID: 50461
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1467-2979
Keywords: aquarium fishery, clownfish, digital media, Finding Dory, Finding Nemo, marine aquarium trade
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A version of this publication was included as Chapter 8 of the following PhD thesis: < Militz, Thane A. (2017) A review of the Papua New Guinea marine aquarium fishery. PhD thesis, James Cook University>, which is available Open Access in ResearchOnline@JCU. Please see the Related URLs for access.

Funders: James Cook University
Date Deposited: 20 Sep 2017 09:21
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410402 Environmental assessment and monitoring @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960507 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Marine Environments @ 100%
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