Two finless porpoises were found dead in different parts of the Yangtze River within one week, and are being investigated by the local authority, according to media reports.
Experts believe that the two finless porpoises died stuck in fishing nets. Since porpoises are air-breathing mammals, they have only minutes to escape before they drown.
The Yangtze River's finless porpoise is one of the very few porpoises (relatives of dolphins and whales) that live in fresh water, an indicator of the Yangtze River's ecological health. Also, its small size and 'smile' make it popular.
China's finless porpoises, dubbed "water pandas", have been classified as extremely endangered with only 1,012 of them in the Yangtze River, according to a report by China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs in 2018.
A wide range of government initiatives have been put in place, including a number of newly-built natural reserves and observation decks, stronger support to research and efforts to reduce noise pollution. Fishing will also be thoroughly banned in the Yangtze and tributaries and lakes connected to it by 2020, according to a guideline issued by the State Council in 2018. In doing so, the threat posed by fishing boats will be diminishing and porpoises' food reserves could become more stable.
Han Changfu, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, also noted that the top priority should be given to the restoration of the ecological environment in the Yangtze River, while the livelihood of fishermen should be guaranteed through exploring a diversified eco-compensation mechanism.