Brazil's last ditch-effort to save pink dolphin

Brazil wants to stop fishermen from catching a certain type of catfish for the next five years. But the move isn't meant to protect the fish.

The country's Fishing and Aquaculture Ministry announced Tuesday it plans to place a ban on catching the  piracatinga species in an effort to stop the killing of the Amazon pink dolphin, whose flesh is often used as bait for the catfish. (Via National GeographicYouTube / Esdras Moraes)

Nature World News reports a ministry spokesperson said the government is still working out the finer details of the ban. But it will reportedly go into effect sometime next year, which will give officials time to find an alternative bait for the catfish.

As a writer for One Green Planet explains, many fishermen in Brazil slaughter pink dolphins, also known as river dolphins, because the piracatinga is a carnivorous fish that's attracted in large numbers to dead animal carcasses in the water. This gruesome method has become a popular way to catch them by the dozen.

But surprisingly, the fish isn't even popular in Brazil — most of what's caught is exported on the international market, with Columbia being one of the biggest buyers.

The Wire reports fisherman in the Amazon kill about 1,500 pink dolphins every year — even though many locals believe the creatures have some mystical powers.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, there are several well-known myths about the pink dolphin. Some believe, once the sun goes down, the dolphins magically change into handsome men all dressed in white who venture out on land to seduce the women of local villages.

Other myths say you should never look a pink dolphin in the eye, unless you want to have terrifying nightmares for the rest of your life. And some even claim killing one is bad luck. (Via Animal Planet)

Brazil's Fishing and Aquaculture Ministry says it hopes the five-year ban on piracatinga fishing will give the pink dolphins enough time to rebuild their population.

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