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Tuesday, 2 September 2003


Scientists working in Venezuela’s Caura River basin have discovered 10 new species of fish and a previously unknown species of shrimp. Among these discoveries, revealed by US-based Conservation International, was an armoured catfish whose spiky head earned him the nickname "punk" and an omnivorous piranha that eats fruit as well as flesh. The Caura River Basin, in the state of Bolivar, is an area of pristine tropical forest and waterways tucked away in the highlands, about 300 miles south-east of Venezuela’s capital Caracas.

The IPKat, who is inordinately fond of fish, notes that the protection of indigenous resources has become a popular battle-cry at WIPO, among lobby groups (eg here and here) and in academic circles (eg here and here). Although this protection is usually assumed to cover plants, there is no reason in principle why it should not also extend to the exploitation of fish if they turn out to have valuable pharmaceutical or medicinal properties. Coastal fish and shrimp may however turn out to be indigenous to more than one country, with the result that anyone seeking to exploit their properties may be able to play off one country’s authorities against another.

Medicinal properties of catfish here and here
Protect your catfish here, here and here
Catfish recipes here and here
Tropical fish to avoid here and here

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