80 endangered Chinese sturgeon released into Yangtze River for reproduction

China's Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs released a total of 80 Chinese sturgeon, also known as the Yangtze sturgeon, in the Jinsha section of the Yangtze River in Yibin City, southwest China's Sichuan Province on Thursday.

The captive-bred fish were sexually mature and over 8 years old. Each fish weighed an average of 14 to 15 kilograms, with an average length of more than one meter. 

More than 24 of them were implanted with ultrasonic tracking markers. Researchers will continue to monitor the distribution, migration, as well as the growth and spawning of every fish to reconstruct the natural breeding process of the sturgeon in the Yangtze River.

"Starting from January 1, 2021, fishing in the Yangtze River is prohibited for the next 10 years. During this period, we will release the Yangtze sturgeon into the river, significantly improving their survival rate. Since this area is the most important habitat and historical spawning ground for them, we hope the sturgeons can reestablish their natural breeding grounds as soon as possible by releasing them into this area," said Wei Qiwei, researcher at the Yangtze River Fisheries Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences (FFRC).

"The next key is to see whether the Yangtze sturgeon can naturally reproduce or not. Then we will focus on protecting the good-breeding areas and prevent ships and construction projects from disturbing and destroying the reproduction zones of the fish. In addition, for those regional reproduction areas, we are going to provide them protection," Wei said.

The Yangtze sturgeon, a rare wild fish unique to the upper Yangtze River, is under first-class state protection in China. In recent years, the wild population of the Yangtze sturgeon has basically vanished. In order to protect the endangered fish, Chinese authorities have launched an annual release project to rescue and increase the population of the Yangtze sturgeon.

Since the launch of the "Action Plan for the Rescue of the Yangtze River Sturgeon (2018-2035)" in 2018, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs has carried out artificial breeding and releasing activities for the Yangtze sturgeon in the Yibin section of the Yangtze River every year, hoping to gradually rebuild the wild population of the Yangtze sturgeon and accelerate the improvement of the ecological environment of the Yangtze River.

(Cover image via screenshot)

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