China will release 200,000 Chinese sturgeon into the Yangtze River, the country's longest river, starting Saturday, as part of its efforts to protect the rare fish.
The first batch of 100,000 fish was released in Yichang City of Hubei Province on Saturday, with two more batches to follow, said China Three Gorges Corporation, noting that it has conducted the release every year since 1984.
With a history of 140 million years, Chinese sturgeon is among the most ancient vertebrate species on earth and is under Class-A protection in China. The fish is mainly protected through artificial breeding followed by release into natural environment.
Sturgeon released this year are between six months to 14 years old, a design aimed at fostering the restoration of the wild population, said Jiang Wei, chief engineer of the company's research center for the species.
Before the release, larger sturgeon nearing sexual maturity were branded with satellite tracers for analyzing environmental impacts on the species' survival in the wild, in order to inform future protection measures.
In recent years, China has put solid effort into ecological conservation along the Yangtze River, with a 10-year fishing ban launched in pivotal waters along the river at the beginning of 2021.
In December 2020, China promulgated the Yangtze River Protection Law, providing legal guarantee for biodiversity conservation in the river.