Project suspended to make way for finless porpoises

By Li Jingrong
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, January 6, 2015
Adjust font size:

A 500 million yuan waterway construction project has been suspended to make way for the black finless porpoise, an endangered species in China's Yangtze River. [Photo/Xinhua]

Zhang said that the threats posed by water conservancy projects to the survival of aquatic creatures in the Yangtze River are permanent. Changes in hydrological conditions can cause the degradation of fishery resources, resulting in food shortages for the black finless porpoises. During project construction, high-strength building materials like stones, concrete and steel bars can harden the riverbanks and riverbeds, directly damaging the breeding habitats of black finless porpoises.

Black finless porpoises are in dire straits, said Zhang. With the worsening of their living environment, the number of black finless porpoises has dropped year by year from 3,600 in 1990 to 1,800 in 2006 and to 1,040 in 2012. "Very likely, black finless porpoises will be totally extinct from China within 10 years," he added.

Tang Wenqiao, a professor at Shanghai Ocean University, said that some clever porpoises choose to hide in sand pits left behind by large projects, but when the water level drops, those porpoises who have no time to swim away will be trapped in the pits and will dry out and die.

A rescue center has now been built in the area to rescue black finless porpoises and help protect the surrounding environment.

Official responses and measures

At the end of 2006, an international working group composed of scientists from six countries carried out an investigation of the existence of white-flag dolphins along the Yangtze River from Yichang in Hubei Province to Shanghai. The scientists didn't find any trace of the creature.

White-flag dolphins are a freshwater dolphin found only in China's Yangtze River. The news that "white-flag dolphins are probably extinct" was later widely published in Western media and was even listed as one of the "top 10 artificially created disasters of 2007" by the United States' Time magazine.

With the probable disappearance of white-flag dolphins, black finless porpoises have become the "flagship" species of the Yangtze River. To steer clear of the same disastrous course, both the central and local governments have devoted attention to the rescue and protection of the endangered creature.

On Oct. 14, 2014, the Ministry of Agriculture issued a statement announcing that the finless porpoises in the Yangtze River were listed as a species under first-level state protection. Anyone who illegally hunts black finless porpoises will face criminal prosecution.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection suspended another two waterway construction projects on the Yangtze River in May and in September last year.

This latest suspension of the 500-million-yuan waterway construction project has been regarded as a favorable development in the drive to protect the porpoises. Local officials said that they will help strengthen local people's environmental protection awareness and compensate them for all consequences arising from the decision to halt the project.

Follow on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
   Previous   1   2  

Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:   
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from