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Toxic puffer fish sold in Tripoli's Mina despite ban.

Summary: A Lebanese environmental publication called on the Agriculture Ministry to warn fishermen against the fishing and selling of puffer fish, after a picture circulated on social media of a puffer fish being sold in a seafood market in Tripoli's Mina.

BEIRUT: A Lebanese environmental publication called on the Agriculture Ministry to warn fishermen against the fishing and selling of puffer fish, after a picture circulated on social media of a puffer fish being sold in a seafood market in Tripoli's Mina.

A statement from Green Area said it had contacted the seafood market where the fish was being sold. The market told the publication that this was not the first time it had sold the type of fish shown in the picture, but said the species was "different" from the known poisonous puffer fish.

The market also told Green Area that many fishermen encourage the consumption of this breed, which is banned in Lebanon. Fishermen argue, according to Green Area, that if the fish is cleaned correctly, there is no threat of being poisoned.

Michel Barish, a marine biologist at the American University of Beirut, identified the fish in the circulated picture as a Lagocephalus spadiceus, according to the statement. Barish told Green Area that all types of puffer fish, including the Lagocephalus spadiceus, contain the deadly tetrodotoxin compound.

Barish stressed that tetrodotoxin poisoning cannot be cured, and many European countries have banned consumption of this fish.

Native to the Indo-Pacific region, the Lagocephalus sceleratus -- a species of highly poisonous puffer fish -- first arrived in the Mediterranean around 10 years ago after it spread through the Red Sea and Suez Canal.

Pufferfish have the ability to inflate their body and fill it with water or air.

Tetrodotoxin comes from its gallbladder, and if cut up incorrectly, the organ will release its poison.

Barish, however, said the toxin is present in many areas of the fish's body but is concentrated in the liver and skin.

People who consume incorrectly prepared puffer fish report feeling an elaborate loss of sensation in their face or tongue and sometimes partial paralysis.

In July 2011, the Agriculture Ministry banned fishing, selling and consuming any of the seven species of pufferfish found in the Mediterranean Sea in decree 272/1, following several people were hospitalized after eating the fish.

A ministry spokesperson told Green Area that the ministry will follow up on the issue with the relevant authorities Monday.

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Publication:The Daily Star (Beirut, Lebanon)
Geographic Code:6LIBY
Date:Aug 27, 2018
Words:420
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