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Chinese dam industry targets Baikal Sturgeon

22 May 2016 Topics:

Gezhouba Co. brought to extinction sturgeons of Yangtze River basin and came to Lake Baikal basin with the same mission?

 

According to WWF Report on sturgeons released on World Fish Migration day 2016 endemic sturgeons of China are facing extinction:

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It is interesting to note that major event that triggered these species decline was construction of Gezhouba Dam on Yangtze River in 1982. for two out of three species it became the main obstacle disrupting normal breeding cycle:

The Chinese sturgeon (Acipenser sinensis)

Chinese sturgeons are restricted to the main channel of the Yangtze and Pearl rivers and the East and South China seas. The construction of the Gezhouba Dam in 1981 blocked the migration routes of this species, making it impossible for it to reach its spawning sites in the upper reaches of the river. Currently, there is just one remaining spawning ground (a 4-km river stretch), which is situated below the Gezhouba Dam. Furthermore, in 2003, the Three Gorges Dam was constructed 40km upstream from the Gezhouba Dam. This has changed the area’s hydrological regime: it has lowered the water level of the river in autumn and winter and affected the water temperature.

Critically Endangered

The Yangtze sturgeon (Acipenserdabryanus)

Yangtze sturgeons are endemic to China and restricted to the Yangtze River system. They have recently been extirpated from the lower reaches of river and are now restricted to the upper main stream in the Sichuan Province, where rampant dam-building leaves them little chance to survive.

Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct)

The Chinese paddlefish (Psephurus gladius)

The populations of Chinese paddlefish decreased due to historical overfishing and habitat degradation. In 1981, the construction of the Gezhouba Dam in the middle reaches of the Yangtze River blocked the migration route of this species and prevented adult fish from moving to the upper reaches of the river to spawn. Only two adult specimens (both females) have been recorded since 2002, despite recent surveys to re-discover the species. The Chinese paddlefish is listed as Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct).

Here is how this paddlefish looked like:

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China Gezhouba International Company got its name from construction of the Gezhouba Hydro on Yangtze river. Now Company has moved to Selenge River basin and started preparations for construction of  the first and largest hydropower station on Eg River – Egiin Gol Hydro. The dam will extirpate fish resources of this pristine river and should not be built according to FAO experts. Several   more large dams are planned on major river courses of the basin, including Shuren Hydro on the main stem of Selenge river.

It is quite sad to see that China Gezhouba International Company did not learn lessons from the past and prepares to deal with the endemic Baikal Sturgeon in the same way like it has done it with its cousins at home in China.

In the Report WWF insists on  preventing new, unsustainable river infrastructure:

It is necessary to advocate for the inclusion of sturgeon protection measures in the investment policies of international finance institutions and public infrastructure funding programmes. In the future, no river infrastructure in relevant rivers should be built without an adequate consideration of sturgeon needs during environmental impact procedures.”

We hope China EXIM Bank will read this report and take such precautions before making decisions on any loan for dam-building in Selenge-Baikal Basin.

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