Improved species protection gains new hopes- China’s Ministry of Agriculture implements first grade protection of Yangtze finless porpoise24th Oct, International Freshwater Dolphin Day, Beijing —WWF welcomes the document issued by China’s Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), the main administrative department for the conservation of the Yangtze finless porpoise, stipulating that Yangtze finless porpoise will be required to be protected and managed according to the standards of National First Grade Key Protected Wild Animals.
The requirements came with the Notice on Further Strengthening the Protection and Management of Yangtze Finless Porpoise, issued by MOA on 14th Oct. MOA, together with State Forestry Administration (SFA), are the national bodies to jointly develop and issue the National Key Protected Wild Animal List, according to the Wild Animal Protection Law of People’s Republic of China. MOA and SFA respectively decide the list of endangered terrestrial wildlife and aquatic wildlife.
“This is a major breakthrough for the upgrading of the protection level of the finless porpoise, which WWF has been pursuing and advocating for decades.” said Lei Gang, Senior Director of Yangtze Program of WWF China, “MOA’s recognition of uplifting finless porpoise’s protection level now brings new hopes to the future of this endangered species.”
Yangtze River is home to two species of freshwater dolphin, the Baiji dolphin and Yangtze finless porpoise. Freshwater dolphin is on the top of Yangtze aquatic ecosystem biological chain, and thus regarded as index species reflecting the status of biodiversity and health of ecosystem for Yangtze basin. However, the Baiji dolphin has been announced functionally extinct; while the number of Yangtze finless porpoise has decreased from 2,700 in early 1990s to 1,800 in 2006, and to near one thousand in the whole Yangtze River basin, as a result of habitats shrink and destruction due to intense human activities. It is ranked as a “critically endangered” species by IUCN’s List of Endangered Species.
According to MOA’s document, for the behaviors of illegal fishing and damage finless porpoise, will be transferred to judicial authority, and be prosecuted for criminal responsibility. No organization or individual will be allowed to illegally occupy finless porpoise’s habitat, feeding area, fattening farm and migration channels. The behaviors damaging finless porpoise’s living environment will be ordered to stop the vandalism, make restoration within time limit, and sentenced to a fine. If serious enough to constitute a crime, it will be investigated for criminal responsibility.
In addition, MOA will organize and implement ‘Yangtze Finless Porpoise Protection Action Plan’, launching a series of measurements of protection including translocation protection. At the same time, MOA will further strengthen the inspection on finless porpoise protection work in the different regions. Any organization or individual that fails to carry out conservation work effectively or severely damages the finless porpoise resources will be put on a list of supervision and severely punished.
“MOA’s notice could ensure that within their jurisdiction, Yangtze finless porpoise will be treated as a First Grade Protected animal. Behaviors of subordinated units will be put under MOA’s supervision.” Lei Gang believes it has at least three positive meanings, “Firstly, within Nature Reserves, Yangtze finless porpoise will be protected according to the requirement of First Grade Protected Animals, and the threats, such as construction of water conservancy projects, shipping, and dredging, etc., will be strictly controlled and reduce possible influences. Secondly, illegal fishing will be strictly controlled in the middle and lower Yangtze River, which will relieve the threats to finless porpoise’s livelihood. Thirdly, MOA will possibly increase investment in finless porpoise’s protection.”
“WWF will pay close attention to the implementation of this regulation, and call on continuous efforts to officially recognize finless porpoise’s status of First Grade Protected Animal by law. WWF will cooperate with partners to establish more translocation protected areas to save its seed population. Meanwhile we will continue to protect the ecosystem in the mainstream of Yangtze, Poyang Lake, and Dongting Lake.” Lei Gang says, “WWF hopes that with the efforts of government authorities and all sectors of society, we will be able to save the finless porpoise and their natural habitat.”
Since 2002, WWF began to get involved into finless porpoise’s protection, and worked with Institute of Hydrabiology of Chinese Academy of Sciences, aquatic life protection authorities, local communities, and corporates such as HSBC, H&M, Coca Cola, and Nokia, to promote the establishment of Yangtze Dolphin Conservation Network, and increase its protection ability.
For more information, please contact:
Xu Chao Senior Press Officer, WWF China
Tel: +86 10-65116272 Mob: +86 186140703326