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April 25, 2014

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Sturgeon center to break ground in May

CONSTRUCTION of a conservation and research center for Chinese sturgeon in Chongming Island will get under way next month, an official said yesterday.

The 56,000-square-meter facility, which will cost more than 63 million yuan (US$10.1 million) to develop, is the first of its kind in the region, the Shanghai Agricultural Commission said.

“At the moment we have two temporary centers — in Chongming County and Jiading District — but this will be the first permanent base,” said a spokesperson for the Shanghai Yangtze Estuary Nature Reserve for the Chinese Sturgeon, an organization set up by the commission.

Construction will start on May 15 and the center should open at the end of 2015, he said.

As well as providing a refuge for injured sturgeon, the center will conduct scientific research, operate breeding programs for endangered species and help educate the public.

In recent decades, the number of Chinese sturgeon — which can grow to 5 meters in length and weigh 450 kilograms — has been decimated by pollution, shipping and poaching.

With a history of 230 million years, the giant is one of the world’s oldest fish species and often dubbed a “living fossil.”

Yesterday’s announcement was made following the release of 70 Chinese sturgeon and more than 42,000 Chinese high fin banded sharks, whose numbers are also in rapid decline.

Over the years the reserve has released more than 10,000 sturgeon, 136,000 high fin banded sharks and countless other fish back into the Yangtze River.


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