Yangtze cowfish, an endangered subspecies of the finless porpoise in the Yangtze River, might die out in 15 years if there were no effective preservation methods due to overfishing and pollution, a Chinese scientist said Monday.
The number of cowfish is declining by 6.3 percent on average each year, and its present population is around 1,000, Zhu Zuoyan, academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and a political advisor, said on the sidelines of the ongoing annual session of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference National Committee.
Besides pollution and overfishing, large-scale hydraulic projects and increasing water transport on the river are also threatening the species, Zhu said.
Due to the extreme weathers in recent years and hydraulic projects in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, cowfish is now facing new menace as the water levels of Dongting Lake and Poyang Lake, their major habitats, are abnormally and frequently low.
Zhu submitted a proposal at the session about expanding a preservation area in the central Hubei province to better protect the cowfish.
“If there were no preservation measures, cowfish would face the same destiny with baiji,” said Zhu.
Baiji refers to Yangtze River dolphin, which was declared “functionally extinct” in 2006 as there are likely to be fewer alive than are needed to stop the species from dying out.