Quantcast

6 Million Tropical Fish Imported Into U.S. Each Year Are Exposed to Cyanide Poisoning

Animals

A new analysis by the Center for Biological Diversity and For the Fishes finds that 6 million tropical marine fish, which are imported into the U.S. each year for the pet trade, have been exposed to cyanide poisoning.

The findings come ahead of the release of Disney/Pixar's Finding Dory, which is likely to fuel a rapid increase in the sale of tropical reef fish, including royal blue tangs like Dory. The groups' new report, Poisoned Waters, examines the destructive practice of cyanide poisoning in places like the Philippines and Indonesia that supply the tropical aquarium-fish market in the U.S.

Royal blue tang fish. Photo credit: H. Krisp

“Finding Dory is almost certainly going to trigger a consumer drive to buy tropical fish like the ones seen in the movie. Sadly this business has a dark and dangerous side that ruins coral reefs and devastates tropical fish populations," Nicholas Whipps of the Center for Biological Diversity said.

To catch fish with cyanide, crushed cyanide tablets are placed in squirt bottles filled with seawater. The dissolved cyanide is then sprayed directly onto the reefs near the targeted fish to stun the fish and make it easier to scoop them up. In some cases 55-gallon drums of cyanide have been dumped overboard to capture fish.

Photo credit: James Cervino / NOAA

As much as 50 percent of all nearby fish are killed on contact, as well as nearby corals. Most of the fish that survive are then shipped to the U.S. and sold for aquariums.

“This report reveals the extensive destruction to reefs and wildlife caused by the saltwater aquarium hobby," Rene Umberger with For the Fishes said. “People who cherish the ocean can take action to protect it by learning which species are captured in the wild, possibly with cyanide, using our free mobile app, Tank Watch."

Earlier this year the center, For the Fishes, The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International petitioned the Obama administration to prevent the import of tropical aquarium fish that are caught overseas using cyanide.

Under the Lacey Act, it is illegal to import animals caught in violation of another country's laws. The largest reef-fish-exporting countries—the Philippines, Indonesia and Sri Lanka—have banned cyanide fishing but do little to regulate the practice. The Lacey Act prohibits the import of these illegally caught fish into the U.S., but enforcement is lacking. As many as 500 metric tons of cyanide are dumped annually on reefs in the Philippines alone.

The petition asks the National Marine Fisheries Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to use their authority under the Lacey Act to halt these illegal imports.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

8 Pilot Whales Dead After Mass Stranding

9 Super Cool Facts About Sea Turtles

Norway Kills More Whales Than Japan and Iceland Combined

Chile's Salmon Industry Using Record Levels of Antibiotics to Combat Bacterial Outbreak

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Wesley Martinez Da Costa / EyeEm / Getty Images

By David R. Montgomery

Would it sound too good to be true if I was to say that there was a simple, profitable and underused agricultural method to help feed everybody, cool the planet, and revitalize rural America? I used to think so, until I started visiting farmers who are restoring fertility to their land, stashing a lot of carbon in their soil, and returning healthy profitability to family farms. Now I've come to see how restoring soil health would prove as good for farmers and rural economies as it would for the environment.

Read More Show Less
skaman306 / Moment / Getty Images

By Jillian Kubala, MS, RD

Radish (Raphanus sativus) is a cruciferous vegetable that originated in Asia and Europe (1Trusted Source).

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Tinnakorn Jorruang / iStock / Getty Images

By Dan Nosowitz

The budding research on cannabidiol, or CBD, attracts a great deal of interest in the agricultural field.

Read More Show Less
Oksana Khodakovskaia / iStock / Getty Images

By Jillian Kubala, MS, RD

The loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) is a tree native to China that's prized for its sweet, citrus-like fruit.

Read More Show Less

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released new numbers that show vaping-related lung illnesses are continuing to grow across the country, as the number of fatalities has climbed to 33 and hospitalizations have reached 1,479 cases, according to a CDC update.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
During the summer, the Arctic tundra is usually a thriving habitat for mammals such as the Arctic fox. Education Images / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Reports of extreme snowfall in the Arctic might seem encouraging, given that the region is rapidly warming due to human-driven climate change. According to a new study, however, the snow could actually pose a major threat to the normal reproductive cycles of Arctic wildlife.

Read More Show Less
Vegan rice and garbanzo beans meals. Ella Olsson / Pexels

By Alina Petre, MS, RD (CA)

One common concern about vegan diets is whether they provide your body with all the vitamins and minerals it needs.

Many claim that a whole-food, plant-based diet easily meets all the daily nutrient requirements.

Read More Show Less
A fracking well looms over a residential area of Liberty, Colorado on Aug. 19. WildEarth Guardians / Flickr

A new multiyear study found that people living or working within 2,000 feet, or nearly half a mile, of a hydraulic fracturing (fracking) drill site may be at a heightened risk of exposure to benzene and other toxic chemicals, according to research released Thursday by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE)

Read More Show Less