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Freeing Nemo: Aquarium owners releasing non-native fish could endanger marine ecosystems

is comparable to adding a few finishing touches to one of da Vinci's masterpieces."

Co-authors of the paper are Eric Buhle and Anne Salomon, both UW doctoral students in biology, and Christy Pattengill-Semmens, science coordinator for the Reef Environmental Education Foundation.

Aquarium keepers need to be educated about the proper disposition of animals in their care, according to Paul Holthus, executive director and president of the Marine Aquarium Council, an international non-profit organization based in Honolulu that focuses on the way tropical fish are collected and handled before they are purchased.

"While it is against the law to release non-native marine fish into coastal waters, it's a problem that can't easily be policed," Semmens says. The authors say that education programs for dealers and aquarists could curtail exotic species introductions if implemented properly. Such programs would need to highlight the problems of introduced species and provide ways for aquarium owners to sell or trade unwanted fish.


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Contact: Sandra Hines
shines@u.washington.edu
206-543-2580
University of Washington
7-Apr-2004


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