|The Chinese sturgeon|
Conservationists recently warned that plans on constructing a dam is threatening the last refuge of China's rarest and most economically important fish, the Yangtze sturgeon. The alarm was raised after authorities in Chongqing redrew the boundaries of a crucial freshwater reserve on the Yangtze River, which was supposed to have been a hotspot for nature conservation. Known as the Upper Yangtze Rare and Endemic Fish Reserve, it was established in the early 1990s as a sanctuary for aquatic species threatened from the Three Gorges Dam. Among the species include four types of wild carp, which are essential to the nation's food security as they provide a diverse genetic stock which fish farms depend on for healthy breeding. In addition to the sturgeon, other critically endangered fish include the Chinese paddlefish and the Chinese sucker. Now, it seems that the Three Gorges Project Development Corporation and local officials want to build another hydroelectric plant which would lead to further decimation in the river life. According to the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the developers appeared to have gained upper hand which led to redrawing the reserve's boundary. In addition to that, the public does not even know that the fish really exist in the river's waters. Although the local government insisted that no decision has been made, but records from the past say that the construction will begin before the environmental assessment will be made. According to Nature Conservancy's Guo Qiaoyu, Yangtze River project manager, the carp population crashed by 90 % since the development of the Three Gorges.
In my opinion, this article gives a clear representation of why it is extremely important to consider China's aquatic species. Rampant development in hydroelectric dams has had a major impact on the species, including the Yangtze river dolphin which has been declared to be "extinct." Now, it appears that this sturgeon and other critically endangered species of fish are next in line. I personally feel that public attention should be directed towards these fish, rather than further development in dams. In addition to that, the construction of such hydroelectric dams has also affected the local carp population which the people of China rely deeply on for food. If further damming continues, than the carp population will collapse further and the people will be left with no fish to eat. I feel that it is vitally important to reach out to the public, and educate them about the importance of these fish including the sturgeon as a first step in saving the Yangtze. Without the fish, the people of China, especially the fishermen and those who work in the fishing industry, would be forced to search for new jobs.
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