A Chinese woman on Thursday found herself in a legal mess after she bought 12.5 tonnes of exotic catfish and dumped it in the lake in order to bring herself some “good luck”. The woman, identified only by her surname Xu, purchased the ray-finned exotic fish for 90,000 yuan (approx ₹10.8 lakhs) to conduct the Buddhist ritual and released them into the fresh waterbody to perish. Chinese authorities initiated a public interest lawsuit against the woman, as they had to remove the dead fish from the water for up to 10 days in eastern China’s Jiangsu province, paper.cn reported.
A case was heard in a court in Changzhou city, where the woman argued that she dumped the fish in the lake to mark the 2000-year-old ritual that says humans freeing animals from captivity will bring good luck. The Chinese woman said that she expected “good karma” but her act was labelled as animal cruelty since the fish could not have survived in the lake.
The court also slapped charges on the woman relating to environmental risks and hazards. The woman said that she bought catfish because it was “cheap” and unclear about the consequences of her actions. Court reminded that the fish “quickly died” after being released into the lake by her in an attempt to do a ritual.
2000-year-old ritual that leads to legal penalties
In September 2022, similarly, another fishmonger surnamed Liu was sued in court and was ordered to pay 90,000 yuan for dumping the fish into the lake which caused their instant death. Liu stated that he was not guilty of any crime and that his act was innocent. “I just want to do a good job. Why should I pay for that action?” he had maintained according to the Chinese press.
Another man was similarly charged in China’s southern Guangxi province. He was asked to pay 28,000 yuan (approx ₹3.3 lakhs) for releasing 10 glass-cleaning fish, 10 turtles, and more than 10 kilograms of copper flamingo. The 2,000-year-old tradition in China is practiced as people believe that releasing the animals into the natural environment will be the harbinger of good luck and prosperity.
Many animals such as turtles, fish, and birds are intentionally bought and left in the natural environment. The exotic animals, however, not only threaten the natural environment, they also tend to die when displaced.