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China breeds rare carp species for protection
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Chinese aquaculturists Sunday released 270,000 head of young rare carp species into a reservoir at the upper reaches of the Tarim River, the country's longest inland waterway.

The move was the fifth of the kind since 2005 when the country successfully propagated the rare carp species known as "Aspiorhynchus laticeps" in Latin through artificial means and freed the first 10,000 head of the artificially-bred young fish into the Kizil Rservoir in June that year.

Azezi Shayeti, chief of the fishery administrative station with Aksu Prefectural Water Resources Department of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, said the young fish released Sunday were about 10 centimeters in length.

With a life span of 40 years, the rare carp species live on grass when they are young, but begin to feed on other types of fish after they reach adulthood, said Azezi Shayeti. "The rare carp could grow to be 1.5 meters long and 40 kg in weight."

The rare fish species is said to have been in existence more than 300 million years before and a large number of such fish could still be found in the Tarim River before the 1970s. However, it faced extinction later because of overfishing and construction of water control facilities, and was listed under top state protection in 1988.

Starting the 1990s, the country has been financing protection efforts, and has spent more than 5 million yuan (735,294 U.S. dollars) in building a stock farm for breeding the rare fish in the Aksu Prefecture where the Tarim River flows through.

So far, the farm has bred 1.4 million head of young fish of the rare carp species, of which 690,000 have been released into the Kizil reservoir, including Sunday's releases.

Azezi Shayeti added that the state had also approved a separate plan for constructing a nature reserve based on the reservoir and several other tributaries on the upper reaches of the Tarim River, at a cost of 2.75 million yuan.

(Xinhua News Agency September 14, 2009)

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