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Ecohealth. 2014 Jun;11(2):197-206. doi: 10.1007/s10393-013-0893-8. Epub 2014 Jan 14.

"Pig in a poke (gato por liebre)": the "mota" (Calophysus macropterus) fishery, molecular evidence of commercialization in Colombia and toxicological analyses.

Author information

1
Laboratorio de Ecología Molecular de Vertebrados Acuáticos-LEMVA, Biological Sciences Department, Universidad de los Andes, Carrera 1 No. 18A-10, Bogotá, Colombia.

Abstract

Overfishing has affected the population abundance trends of many commercial fish species. In the Amazon, the fishery of a catfish commonly known as "mota" or "piracatinga" (Calophysus macropterus) has become an important economic activity in the region as this species has replaced a number of other overexploited great catfish species in the markets. Due to this high exploitation, ways in which to increase captures have been identified. One strategy is to use decomposing animal carcasses as bait. Such strategy has increased the hunting pressure on endangered species such as caimans and river dolphins. We investigated which catfish species are currently commercialized in Colombian fish markets using DNA barcoding, and measured mercury concentration in the tissues of fish molecularly identified as C. macropterus. We collected 86 fish samples in markets of four Colombian cities. Sixty-eight of these were identified molecularly as C.macropterus. The mercury concentration of 29 such samples was analyzed. Samples presented total Hg concentrations higher than the limit for human consumption established by the WHO (0.5 μg/g). These results are worrisome and suggest that (1) C. macropterus is a widely used fish species for human consumption in Colombia and (2) C. macropterus has high concentrations of total Hg, making its consumption a public health risk. Results presented here suggest that C. macropterus has replaced capaz in most Colombian markets. This fishery threatens wild species of river dolphins and caimans, and is also a public health risk given the high mercury levels we found in a subsample of these fishes.

PMID:
24419666
DOI:
10.1007/s10393-013-0893-8
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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