June 16, 2008

China Builds Conservation Center for Rare Fish in Yangtze River

China has set up a conservation and research center for rare fish in the Yangtze River.

The center, covering 1.3 hectares in Jiangyin City in the eastern province of Jiangsu, was established last week by the Chinese Academy of Fishery Science and a Jiangyin fish breeding company.

The 15-million-yuan (2.1 million U.S. dollars) project will focus on ecology, fish physiology, hydro-chemistry and plankton life.

The population of rare fish in the Yangtze River has dropped sharply because of the impact of human activity, such as pollution.

The white-flag dolphin, unique to the Yangtze, was likely extinct after scientists from six countries failed to find even one along the main section of the river in 2006.

Other rare species that live in the Yangtze, such as the Chinese sturgeon, one of the world's oldest vertebrates whose ancestors lived more than 150 million years ago, and the finless porpoise, are also in danger of extinction.

A report from the Shanghai Yangtze Estuary Chinese Sturgeon Conservation Administration said that scientists had located just 14 young sturgeons as of July 2007 in the Chongming monitoring base, where the fish are believed to gather, compared with 600 a year earlier.