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Biology, fisheries, and conservation of sturgeons and paddlefish in China

Abstract

This paper reviews five of the eight species of acipenseriforms that occur in China, chiefly those of the Amur and Yangtze rivers. Kaluga Huso dauricus and Amur sturgeon Acipenser schrenckii are endemic to the Amur River. Both species still support fisheries, but stocks are declining due to overfishing. Acipenseriformes of the Yangtze River are primarily threatened by hydroelectric dams that block free passage to spawning and feeding areas. The Chinese paddlefish Psephurus gladius now is rare in the Yangtze River system, and its spawning activities were severely limited by completion of the Gezhouba Dam in 1981. Since 1988, only 3–10 adult paddlefishes per year have been found below the dam. Limited spawning still exists above the dam, but when the new Three Gorges Dam is complete, it will further threaten the paddlefish. Artificial propagation appears to be the only hope for preventing extinction of P. gladius, but it has yet to be successfully bred in captivity. Dabry's sturgeon A. dabryanus is a small, exclusively freshwater sturgeon found only in the Yangtze River system. It is concentrated today in reaches of the main stream above Gezhouba Dam. The fishery has been closed since 1983, but populations continue to decline. Acipenser dabryanus has been cultured since the 1970s, and holds promise for commercial aquaculture; availability of aquacultural methods offers hope for enhancing natural populations. The Chinese sturgeon A. sinensis occurs in the Yangtze and Pearl rivers and seas of east Asia. There is still disagreement about the taxonomy of the Pearl and Yangtze River populations. The Yangtze River population is anadromous. Adults begin spawning at about age 14 years (males) and 21 years (females), and adults spend over 15 months in the river for reproduction. Spawning sites of A. sinensis were found every year since 1982 below the Gezhouba Dam, but it seems that insufficient suitable ground is available for spawning. Since 1983, commercial fishing has been prohibited but more measures need to be taken such as establishing protected areas and characterizing critical spawning, summering and wintering habitats.

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Wei, Q., Ke, F., Zhang, J. et al. Biology, fisheries, and conservation of sturgeons and paddlefish in China. Environmental Biology of Fishes 48, 241–255 (1997). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1007395612241

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1007395612241

  • Acipenseriformes
  • Acipenser
  • Huso
  • Psephurus
  • Yangtze River
  • Amur River
  • Gezhouba Dam
  • Three Gorges Project
  • spawning areas