Saturday, June 7, 2014

Brazil to Temporarily Ban Catfish Fishing to Save the Amazon River Dolphin

Amazon river dolphin

It has recently been reported that the Fishing and Aquaculture Ministry of Brazil has announced that the country would temporarily ban the fishing of a certain species of catfish known as the piracatinga, which requires using Amazon river dolphin flesh as bait. The ministry's spokesperson Ultimo Valdares indicated that the ban would go into effect next year for a five-year period. According to Nivia do Campo, president of an environmental activist group located in the state of Amazonas, the Mamiraua Reserve has experienced a loss of more than 1,550 river dolphins. She further revealed that ever since fishermen started using the dolphins as bait in 2000, the population of the species decreased by an annual rate of ten percent. The piracatinga catfish, known also the "water vulture" due to its diet comprised of decomposing matter, is a major source of income in Colombia where merchants encourage fishermen to use dolphin flesh.

It is pleasing to see what Brazil is doing, in order to help save one of its flagship species. The Amazon river dolphin has been revered by the local river communities for centuries. For example, there is one legend which tells of these dolphins turning into handsome men and are able to leave the water at night. Therefore, these animals are not consumed by the local people and killing them is bad luck. However, their status as creatures of myths and legends, has never stopped them from suffering in the hands of humans. This was seen in the case of using their meat as fishing bait, which led to scores of these magnificent animals ruthlessly slaughtered. With the implementation of this ban, the people of Brazil will have the opportunity to search for an alternative to dolphin meat as fishing bait. Furthermore, these animals continue to suffer due to threats such as pollution and construction of dams and require a great deal of attention to save and protect them. Recently, scientists discovered and identified a new species of river dolphins in the Araguaia River basin. Known as the Araguaian river dolphin, it is said that only 1,000 of these dolphins exist in the basin. This indicates that river dolphins, as a group, are considered to be one of the rarest animals in the world. Therefore, it is highly crucial to implement protection methods of river dolphins not just in South America but also in Asia as well.

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