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Yangtze fish resources ‘exhausted’

10 April 2013
Fishery stocks in the Yangtze River have declined severely over recent years, to the extent that its ecological system is on the verge of collapse, according to Zhao Yimin, head of a fishery resource office at the Ministry of Agriculture.

The Guangzhou-based magazine Time Weekly reported that the river used to support some 1,100 species of wild aquatic animals, including more than 370 fish species of which 142 were unique to the river. Since then, however, fish numbers have declined sharply, and some species, such as the shad and blowfish, have not been spotted for several years.

The decline is believed to be the result of excessive fishing, the construction of water conservancy projects, pollution and unregulated drainage.

In addition, water conditions have changed significantly in the Three Gorges area since the world’s largest dam was constructed there, and this has impacted fish spawning patterns in upstream locations.

Water pollution has deteriorated substantially. In 2009, 33.32bn tons of sewage were discharged into the river, an increase of 22 per cent on the 2003 figure.

“We have reaped a lot of benefits from the Yangtze River,” said Mr Zhao. “Under state plans to double the per-capita income by 2020, we are expected to exploit it even more. It’s almost hopeless for the river to recover.”

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