People Urged Not to Buy Exotic Water Species

People Urged Not to Buy Exotic Water Species People Urged Not to Buy Exotic Water Species

The Department of Environment has asked people across the country not to purchase endangered aquatic species other than goldfish, for the festivities related to the Iranian New Year (Norouz) on March 21.

The illegal trade of marine species including hydra, turtles, and Luristan newt, a salamander species endemic to the southern Zagros Mountains in Iran, always spikes in the weeks leading to the Persian New Year according to ISNA.

“These species are hunted and sold illegally causing irreversible harm to the environment and natural ecosystems,” said Mohammad Hossein Bazgir, head of the DoE Tehran office.

“Selling these creatures is prohibited and illegal, and will invite punitive measures. One of the DOE’s main duties is to deal with violations of the environmental law.”

Bazgir urged people to refrain from purchasing aquatic animals as it leads to promoting their sales, and to report any cases of sales to the hotline 1540.

Illegal hunting of wild species without permits from the DOE is a crime in Iran attracting a cash penalty of 100,000 to one million rials ($2.6-$26), along with one to six months of imprisonment for every animal killed or captured.

Harming or hunting a Luristan newt carries a penalty of three million rials ($80) as per the pertinent law last revised in 2015.

Also called Kaiser’s spotted newt, the Luristan newt is listed as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Iranian families have made it a habit to purchase these colorful water species to decorate their “Haft-Seen” table, a tabletop arrangement of symbolic items prepared for the New Year. The haft-seen table includes seven items all starting with the letter Seen (read as S) in the Persian alphabet.

  Not Originally Part of Haft-Seen

Goldfish, although a Persian symbol representing life, is actually not included in the original haft-seen table, and have gradually been added as an ornamental item.

The traditional haft-seen items include ‘sabzeh’ (plant, normally including wheat, barley, green gram or lentil sprouts) growing in a dish - symbolizing rebirth, ‘samanu’ (sweet pudding made from wheat germ) symbolizing affluence, ‘senjed’ (dried oleaster Wild Olive fruit) symbolizing love, ‘seer’ (garlic) symbolizing medicine and health, ‘seeb’ (apple) symbolizing beauty, ‘somaq’ (sumac) symbolizing sunrise, and ‘serkeh’ (vinegar) symbolizing old-age and patience.

The holy Qur’an, ‘Divan-e Hafez,’ a Persian poetry book, a mirror, painted eggs, coins as a symbol of wealth, candles for each member of the family and a bowl of water is also part of the haft-seen table.

Social campaigns online and offline encourage people not to buy goldfish too for the Norouz festivities in order to preserve the species and promote a culture of compassion and caring for wildlife.

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