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Ban floated for Yangtze fish

THE commercial fishing for knife fish, an endangered species reputed to be the "No. 1 delicacy in the Yangtze River," may be banned.

Knife fish, whose numbers have dropped sharply in recent years, are likely to be added to the list of aquatic species under state protection when it is revised, said Zhuang Ping, deputy director of the East China Sea Fishery Research Institute.

Once knife fish become state-protected, they can't be fished commercially and can only be bred artificially with government approval.

Those who catch state-protected animals can be fined and even jailed.

"It's good for protecting the endangered species and maintaining biodiversity," said Gao Xuexiang, an officer with the Shanghai Fishery Office. "Meanwhile, we should manage fishermen who earn a lot by catching knife fish."

Fishermen need a license to catch knife fish but the annual catch has dropped from about 4,000 tons in the 1970s to 100 tons last year due to over-fishing and environmental degradation, officials said.

The retail price of knife fish has jumped to about 4,000 yuan (US$600) a kilogram in the local market this year, however little was available.

Experts at Shanghai Ocean University are now studying how to breed knife fish artificially.

If the study is successful, licenses may be issued for artificial breeding of the species, Gao said.


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