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China achieves breakthrough in Yangtze sturgeon's natural reproduction in the wild

Xinhua, March 28, 2023
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Photo taken on Feb. 25, 2022 shows Yangtze sturgeons at a breeding base for rare fishes in the Three Gorges Reservoir in southwest China's Chongqing. (Xinhua/Tang Yi)

BEIJING, March 28 (Xinhua) -- China has just made a major breakthrough in the protection of the Yangtze sturgeon, an endangered species under first-class national protection, with a recent test showing that the rare fish can reproduce naturally in the wild.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs on Monday said that the natural ovulation and fertilization of Yangtze sturgeon had been captured by underwater cameras during a test last week, and that the eggs hatched into seedlings on Friday.

The test was launched in July 2022 in a tributary of the Yangtze in Jiang'an County, southwest China's Sichuan Province. On March 19, 20 sexually mature sturgeon, 10 males and 10 females, were placed into net cages that have been monitored around the clock.

The success of the test has proved that mature individuals in the artificial Yangtze sturgeon population have the ability to reproduce in the wild. This lays the foundation for the full restoration of the species' natural reproduction in the river.

Yangtze sturgeon lost their natural ability to reproduce in 2000 due to overfishing and water pollution, among other factors. The International Union for Conservation of Nature declared the species extinct in the wild in July last year.

With this latest breakthrough, the ministry has said that further efforts will be made to expand the natural reproduction test, increase the species' population in the wild, and restore their habitat in the hopes of forming a self-sustaining natural population at an early date.  ■