Rare species resurgent in Yangtze River after fishing ban

The biological resources of China's Yangtze River have recovered significantly since a long-term fishing ban was imposed in 2021, the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said at a press conference on Monday.

On January 1, 2021, China instituted a 10-year ban on the key waters of the Yangtze River, prohibiting commercial fishing in a bid to replenish fish stocks and preserve endangered species.

Since then, the number of species endemic to the Chishui River in the area bordering southwest China's Yunnan, Sichuan and Guizhou provinces, as a tributary of the Yangtze River, has increased from 32 to 37, and the volume of biological resources has nearly doubled since before the ban.

One example is Ochetobius elongatus, a species of carp, which was rediscovered in Dongting Lake, which is connected to the Yangtze River basin and is also covered by the ban.

Also, the populations of rare species such as the Yangtze finless porpoise and the Chinese sturgeon have regenerated.

According to the ministry, the law enforcement vessels made a total of 159,000 patrols throughout 2021 and cleared up 9,140 illegal fishing boats and 27.5 million illegal fishing nets.

As a result, the rise of illegal fishing cases has been preliminarily curbed, according to Ma Yi, director of the Yangtze River Office under the ministry.

"We've cracked down on some 12,000 illegal fishing cases, with an average of 1,007 per month. Cases in number during the second half of the year declined over 20 percent from the same period of 2020. More than 400 cases were sent to judicial organs, a [year-on-year] decrease of 45 percent," said Ma.

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