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Yangtze cowfish numbers declining 6.4 pct each year: scientist

(Xinhua)

09:53, January 06, 2012

WUHAN, Jan. 5 (Xinhua) -- A Chinese scientist Thursday said the population of an endangered subspecies of the finless porpoise in the Yangtze River is declining by 6.4 percent on average each year due to overfishing and pollution.

Wang Ding, vice director of the hydrobiology institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, even warned that the state-protected Yangtze cowfish may face extinction in five years if no active protection is carried out and overfishing is allowed.

The population of Yangtze cowfish, which mainly live in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze and its neighboring lakes of Dongting and Poyang, is estimated at around 1,000.

Worsening pollution, illegal fishing, busy water transport and the construction of big hydro projects are seeing more and more Yangtze cowfish dying each year. "Many Yangtze cowfish are crushed to death by sand dredging facilities," Wang added.

Noise is also a threat, as cowfish have sensitive hearing, Wang said.

More Yangtze cowfish should live in separate neighboring waters or nature reserves, which see less human activity than the river or lakes, he said.

The scientist also called for controls on water traffic and a ban on sand dredging and overfishing in the nature reserves.

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