Activists from the Friends of the Manatee Association (Ampa) have placed a 12-meter-tall inflatable dolphin dummy outside the National Congress. The act was staged as part of a campaign entitled Red Alert, which aims to urge the Ministry of Environment to take action and bring into effect earlier the ban on the fishing of piracatinga (Calophysus macropterus) in the Amazon Rainforest – an activity that entails the use of the dolphin as bait.
They have also handed to a representative from the ministry a petition pleading for the protection of aquatic mammals in the Amazon region, especially the Amazon river dolphin, also known as pink river dolphin, or boto-cor-de-rosa in Portuguese.
The fishing of piracatinga has been forbidden since July, but the measure will only be brought into effect in January 2015. Although environmentalists hail the ban as a remarkable achievement, they say a large number of dolphins may fall victim of this practice until then.
Studies on the species, carried out by the National Research Institute of Amazônia (Inpa) at the Sustainable Development Reserve of Mamirauá, reveal that the population of Amazon river dolphins has been falling at a pace of 10 percent per annum.
“This amounts to over 4 thousand animals killed every year,” warns researcher Vera da Silva, head of the Dolphin Project (Projeto Boto). Her work has focused on these animals for over three decades.
She further mentions that the dolphin has been protected by law since 1967, and argues that “alternative solutions [should be found] to the fishing of piracatinga – solutions which do not require the use of the dolphin as bait.”