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Mencius Melo – From Cenarium Magazine
A pirarucu (Araipama gigas), a fish that is a symbol of the Brazilian Amazon, was found in a river in the US state of Florida. The animal was found dead on the banks of the Caloosahatchee River, in an area of high sport fishing. The information was conveyed by the BNC Philadélphia network, last Monday, 15.
Amazonas is 2,408 from the state of Florida, in the USA. Distance alone is an obstacle, so the fact that an Amazonian fish fell into a river in the USA is a mystery. CENARIUM MAGAZINE spoke with biologist Fabiano Tadei, from the Federal University of Amazonas (Ufam) to learn more about the subject.
“Pirarucu is a species that is under protection from fishing, capture, and trafficking through national and international laws. Being registered at the Convention on International Trade in Species of Wild Flora and Fauna in Danger of Extinction (Cites) as a species that cannot be commercialized”, stressed Fabiano.
“However, the presence of fish in an American river is the result of probable animal trafficking. The biodiversity of Amazonian ornamental fish is recognized worldwide and the criminal exploitation of this fauna is known by the authorities for routes that leave the country through the region of the 3 borders and go to the Pacific”, he reported.
“The use of pirarucus in aquarism is well known, these animals are very resistant to adverse conditions and can withstand extreme conditions, especially when they are still tadpoles (larvae) stages in which they are captured and transported more easily. With the growth of the individual many of its ‘owners’ release them into nature”, described the biologist.
The professional reports that it is not the first time that the pirarucu is located in habitats that are not the rivers of the Amazon region where it is natural. “The presence of the species has already been reported in other places in Brazil (example: Rio Grande, border of São Paulo and Minas Gerais) and it is not uncommon to find individuals of the species in private tanks”, observed Tadei.
He rules out biopiracy. “Biopiracy is access to a country’s genetic heritage or ethno-knowledge, for example: access to the DNA of an animal or plant or even the pharmaceutical properties (or possible properties) of a product produced by one of these species.The export or import of animals or plants is trafficking in animals or vegetables ”, he explained.
The introduction of an exotic species such as the pirarucu can cause an imbalance in nature, says the biologist.“A new species in an environment already balanced with predators, prey and well-defined producers, causes a reorganization in the hierarchy of native species, which can lead many of them to extinction. This is because the exotic species may be more apt than those native to predation or take up more space, reducing these resources for native species”, he warned.
He cites examples: “there are well-known cases of the introduction of exotic species, some even governmental, like what happened in Australia. Frogs were released in the country to control pests (insects). After a while, the exotic species was so much more efficient than the native species that it ended up leading them to extinction by competition”, remembered Fabiano Tadei.
“In Brazil, the species of freshwater shrimp typical of the Amazon today is found in several regions of the country, the species was transported along with the fish used for cultivation in hydroelectric dams. With the accidental burst of many of these psiculture tanks, these prawns have spread across the rivers. Scientific reports indicate that shrimp feed on fish eggs such as pacu, reducing their natural stocks”, he stressed.
Supervise to prevent
The biologist notes that only strong enforcement can stop trafficking. “The transport of animals and vegetables, even between Brazilian states, is currently much better inspected than in past decades. However, the only way to avoid trafficking is an even more efficient inspection at airports, ports, and international correspondence ”, he assured.
“Several animal traffickers use international correspondence to send species of Brazilian fauna and flora abroad. There are even reports of snakes that were trafficked in this way and curious cases like the trafficking of butterflies (genetic material) in pictures and parasitic worms in books”, concluded Fabiano Tadei.