First local regulation protecting critically endangered Chinese sturgeon to take effect on June 6

Source:Global Times Published: 2020/5/14 22:12:51

Photo taken on April 22, 2020 shows the release of the Chinese sturgeons to the Yangtze River in Yichang, central China's Hubei Province. About 10,000 second filial generation Chinese sturgeons were released into the Yangtze River on Wednesday to increase wild stocks of the rare species.Photo:Xinhua

Shanghai passed a regulation on Thursday to protect the Chinese sturgeon, a species that has been assessed as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. The regulation stipulates that it is forbidden to capture or kill the Chinese sturgeon.

The regulation will take effect on June 6. In addition to the administrative responsibilities for violation of regulations and laws concerning ecological environment, any unit or individual who causes damage to the ecological environment of the water area inhabited by the Chinese sturgeon shall be liable for compensation for environmental damage, according to the regulation.

It also requires the city's fishery administrative department to announce important information about the Chinese sturgeon annually, including the resource status, environmental conditions, artificial breeding, shelter and rescue. 

Moreover, the regulation clarifies that the fishery administrative department should give rewards to units and individuals who have made outstanding achievements in the protection and rescue of the Chinese sturgeon, in a bid to encourage people to engage in the protection of this rare species.

The living conditions for the Chinese sturgeon have been damaged by overfishing, environmental pollution and development of the shipping industry as well as the road and bridge projects along the Yangtze River.

The fish, a large anadromous species, used to swim to the upper reaches of the Yangtze River to spawn. However, the construction of the Gezhouba Dam in 1981 has cut off their migration route to the upper reaches of the river. 

Now their spawning ground is situated below the Gezhouba dam. After spawning, the broodstock and the juveniles return to the sea through the estuary of the Yangtze River.

Therefore, the regulation also stipulates that other cities along the river must make joint efforts to protect and rescue the endangered fish.

The Chinese sturgeon has existed for more than 140 million years and is regarded as a "living fossil." Like the strictly protected "national treasure" giant panda, it is a first-class nationally protected animal in China.

Protection of the Chinese sturgeon is urgent. China began the artificial propagation and release of the fish in 1984. The number of first filial generation Chinese sturgeons through artificial breeding, however, is less than 1,000, according to a report by the Shanghai Observer. 

Whether this species can be preserved depends on the natural population. If the natural population is not well protected, the Chinese sturgeon is in danger of extinction, Li Furong, vice chairperson of the Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee of Shanghai Municipal People's Congress, said in the Shanghai Observer report.

China has been making efforts to protect biodiversity along the Yangtze River basin. It started a 10-year fishing ban on key areas of the Yangtze River basin on January 1, covering 332 nature reserves, which includes Shanghai's Chinese sturgeon nature reserve at the estuary of the river.

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