This week, Dr Fernando Trujillo representing Fundacion Omacha, WDC’s partner in Colombia, had an important meeting with the Colombian Health Ministry at Government headquarters in Bogota. Fernando presented information about the cruel, unsustainable and illegal killing of river dolphins (botos) in Brazil for fish bait. The vast majority of the fish (known as piracatinga in Brazil and mota in Colombia) which is caught using dolphin –deadly methods is exported for consumption in Colombia. People living in Colombian cities are buying this fish in their local supermarkets without any idea of its origins or the fact that botos are being killed and used as bait to supply it.
28 people all working at a senior level in the Colombian Government heard from Fernando about the shockingly high levels of mercury found in mota – not only are dolphins dying to supply this fish; people eating it are putting their own health at risk. Mota fish is full of mercury – a highly toxic metal. Mercury is a by-product from gold mining operations in the Amazon – it enters the food chain and bioaccumulates, reaching dangerous levels in top predators such as river dolphins. Mota is a carnivorous scavenger fish and those eating boto flesh bait are likely to contain the highest levels of mercury in their bodies of all.
Ministers and officials agreed that based on the evidence Fernando presented, they should urgently launch their own investigation into the mercury levels in this fish and look at the danger to human health. Fundacion Omacha and WDC are lobbying the Colombian Government to ban the import of mota into Colombia, currently the biggest market by far. We are convinced that dramatically reducing the demand for this fish will put pressure on Brazil to ban fishing for it altogether.
Currently huge amounts of this deadly fish are being imported into Colombia and mislabelled by traders, so that people have absolutely no idea what they are eating. This is now of huge concern to the Colombian authorities.
You can learn much more about this appalling hunt for botos and misleading of the Colombian public by watching this film made by Fundacion Omacha and sponsored by WDC.