Another species suffers mass extinction at the hands of human atrocities to the planet. This time, it’s Chinese paddlefish, once considered one of the largest freshwater fish in the world. By Tanvi Jain
The Chinese paddlefish have gone extinct after surviving for around 200 million years. Considered as one of the largest freshwater fish of the world, this species stretched to a length of 23 feet and weighed around 450 kilograms. The fish with a silver body and a long sword-like snout was first spotted in 2003.
Although its extinction time was estimated to be somewhere between 2005-2010, the species had stopped reproducing by 1993 itself. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species had declared them critically endangered back in 2010.
Native to the Yangtze River, the population of Chinese paddlefish started declining since the late 1970s due to excessive fishing and habitat fragmentation. On average, at least 25 tonnes of Chinese paddlefish used to be harvested every year.
However, the real cause of extinction according to scientists is the dams, especially the Gezhouba Dam on Yangtze River, which was constructed without a fish ladder or a bypass, thereby cutting off their only spawning grounds upstream.
The latest revelation about the extinction of Chinese paddlefish was made during a biological survey of the entire river basin. Despite various attempts and use of nets, sonar, electro-fishing gear and other techniques, not a single representative of the species was located, not even in fish markets across the country.
The only surviving relative of the Chinese paddlefish is the American paddlefish found in the Mississippi River Basin of the United States. Both belong to the sturgeon family, the most valuable and endangered group of fish, of which 85 per cent are under high risk of extinction.
Last month, China had reportedly imposed a 10-year commercial fishing ban in more than 300 conservation zones along the Yangtze River, in order to control the declining population of endangered species.