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'Porpoise Tourism' Program to Save the Species
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A proposal by a Chinese scientist has been submitted to the State Council to launch a finless porpoise tourism project on the Yangtze River which would be like international whale watch programs.


Wang Kexiong, an expert with the Hydrobiology Institute under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, a participant in the fruitless search for white-flag dolphins along the river at the end of last year, believes the program would help protect the species.



"The program would involve regulating shipping, curbing over fishing and pollution which would help revitalize the habitat of the river's finless porpoises," he told China Youth Daily.


He said the US State California launched a tourist whale watch program as early as 1955. Similar programs had been introduced in nearly one hundred countries.


The Chinese program, similar to the California venture, would earn good tourism revenues and cause almost no pollution, he said.


The large number of vessels on the river have been found to interfere with the directional sonar used by dolphins and finless porpoises to find food. Fishing nets and pollution are other major contributing factors to the decline of the species.


International scientists failed to find a single white-flag dolphin during an expedition from November to December last year. The majority of experts agree the species is "functionally extinct."


Experts predict there are only 1,200 to 1,400 finless porpoise currently inhabiting the Yangtze, Poyang Lake and Dongting Lake.


(Xinhua News Agency January 24, 2007)

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