Mexican Aphrodisiac Fish More Pricey Than Cocaine
This video follows Sea Shepherd volunteers through the process of locating, retrieving and disposing of illegal nets in the Gulf of California. (Sea Shepherd Conservation Society)
A fish endemic to Mexico’s Gulf of California has been the target of poaching for decades because its swim bladder is highly coveted in China, where it is believed to possess aphrodisiac and medicinal properties.
Illegal fishing of the critically endangered totoaba furthermore threatens to drive another unique marine species to extinction, such as the vaquita, a type of porpoise whose numbers are believed to have fallen to less than 40.
“We’ve carried out different seizures of more than 100 (totoaba fish) over the past year. The totoaba swim bladder can be worth as much as $60,000 per kilogram (2.2 pounds)” on the black market, Ignacio Millan, a deputy prosecutor at Mexico’s Federal Environmental Protection Agency (Profepa), told EFE.
The totoaba is not a particularly attractive marine animal. A member of the Sciaenid family of carnivorous fish, it can grow to up to two meters (6.6 feet) in length, weigh as much as 100 kilograms and live more than 20 years.
Its value stems from its highly prized swim bladder, a gas-filled internal organ that allows many fish to control their buoyancy.
In China, great value has long been placed on the swim bladder of a fish known as the bahaba, which is served in soups and believed to have aphrodisiac, medicinal and regenerative qualities.
But with the bahaba nearly extinct, Chinese consumers of that delicacy have turned their attention to the totoaba.
Read the rest at The Costa Rica Star
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