Yangtze River fish population threatened with extinction

Source:Globaltimes.cn Published: 2020/1/14 5:00:52

File photo of a Chinese paddlefish. Photo: Chutian Metropolis Daily

More fish in the Yangtze River and East China Sea face endangerment after the Chinese paddlefish (psephurus gladius), the largest freshwater fish in the Yangtze River, was recently declared extinct. 

Extinction and ecosystem threats have become hot topics on social media after it was declared that the Chinese paddlefish would likely be extinct between 2005 and 2010. 

The paddlefish is one of the four marine species protected at the first-class national level in the Yangtze River that face complete extinction. 

Yangtze River dolphin was declared extinct a few years ago. Other species include the Dabry's sturgeon, only 20 of which live in the Yangtze River and have no natural reproduction in the past 10 years. Also, Chinese sturgeons haven't reproduced naturally in the past three consecutive years. 

Seasonal shad (Tenualosa reevesii) and Lacepede (Luciobrama macrocephalus) have vanished and other region specific fish like the largemouth bronze gudgeon (Coreius guichenoti) haven't been seen for years.  

Fish in the East China Sea also face possible extinction. The yellow croaker once ranked at the top among China's four major seafood products. It was also China's most popular market fish with a record annual production of 130,000 tons. 

Due to overfishing and population degradation, the yellow croaker population has fallen dramatically in the East China Sea.

Wei Qiwei, one of the authors of the academic paper that declared the Chinese paddlefish was extinct told the Beijing News that in addition to not reproducing, the fishing and shipping industries along the Yangtze River have contributed to its demise. 

Other factors include land reclamation from lakes, pollution, urbanization, and aquaculture, Wei said. 

Wei's paper, written with other researchers, was published on December 23, 2019 and went viral on social media. Many people had never heard of the fish before it was declared extinct.  

Chinese paddlefish is spindle-shaped with a head that makes up half of its body and mouth that occupies the majority of the head.

A fully grown paddlefish can weigh almost 500 kilograms and grow seven meters long.  

It enjoyed a ferocious reputation as it remained on top of the food chain and was known as the king of freshwater fish in China.  

The paddlefish was often referred to as a "living fossil" due to the species 125-million-year history. 

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