HONG KONG (Reuters) – The extinction of the Chinese Paddlefish and wild Yangtze Sturgeon, declared by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), unleashed a torrent of comments on China’s social media platforms on Friday (July 22) urging more environmental protection.
The IUCN’s latest list of threatened species, published on its website on July 21, showed that 100 percent of the world’s remaining 26 sturgeon species are now at risk of extinction, up from 85 percent in 2009.
“The assessments are based on new calculations which show their decline over the past three generations to be steeper than previously thought,” the conservation group said, adding that the reassessment had also confirmed the extinction of the Chinese Paddlefish.
Both the Chinese Paddlefish and the Yangtze Sturgeon were common species in the Yangzte river basin which has been plagued by heavy shipping traffic, overfishing and water pollution.
The topic was one of the most discussed on China’s Weibo, a social media platform similar to Twitter, on Friday.
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“A biological population that lived for 150 million years was actually made extinct by modern civilization? I want to ask: where is our civilization?,” one user called Snow Mountain said.
The Chinese Paddlefish was one of the world’s biggest fresh water fish species and could grow up to 7 meters (yards) in length. The IUCN first declared it “critically endangered” in 1996.
The Yangzte Sturgeon, which could grow up to 8 metres (yards), was highly sensitive to increased noise on the river. Its meat was considered a delicacy in China and it was also fished as a source of caviar.
The country has a breeding programme for the sturgeons but has not been successful at maintaining them in the wild. China implemented a fishing ban in some parts of the Yangzte river in 2021.
“Everyone, support the ban on fishing in the Yangtze River, and protect the habitats that are still in the Yangtze River,” a user called Lychee said.
(Reporting by Farah Master in Hong Kong and Albee Zhang in Beijing; Editing by Neil Fullick)