Save Finless Porpoises from Threats of Extensive Shipping Traffic

Target: Ministry of Commerce People’s Republic of China

Goal: Establish alternate routes for cargo ships in the Yangtze River due to immediate threat on finless porpoise

An expedition, organized by the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Hydrobiology, World Wildlife Fund and Wuhan Baiji Dolphin Conservation Fund, began in November 2012 to gather data on population size and distribution of the finless porpoise in the Yangtze River. Researchers are hypothesizing that the porpoise’s abatement is attributed to the increase in shipping traffic throughout the Yangtze River. Urge the Ministry of Commerce People’s Republic of China to seek out alternative shipping routes to decrease the harmful threats on the finless porpoise.

The research expedition extended from early November to late December 2012, covering 3,400km between the cities of Yichang and Shanghai. The research team first observed a total of 380 finless porpoise strictly by visual identification. After using acoustic equipment, it was determined that a tremendous decline in population was evident when compared with an earlier survey conducted in 2006, with only 172 finless porpoise identified.

Head of the research team and associate researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Hydrobiology, Wang Kexiong expounded on his observations of shipping traffic being in direct correlation with porpoise population. Mr. Wang stated that the increase in shipping traffic volumes is posing a direct threat to the finless porpoise that rely on sonar to communicate and locate food. An additional discovered threat is the use of illegal fishing practices in these areas that are potentially contributing to the waning number of finless porpoise.

Throughout the entire voyage, the team encountered 9,643 cargo ships and 736 fishery ships, calculating that an average of 100 cargo ships per hour pass through the most traveled section of the Yangtze River. In waters that are not open to navigation, such as the Jiajiang River, researchers noted dense distributions of finless porpoise, attributing it to a decrease in human interaction or disturbance. Urge China’s Ministry of Commerce to establish alternate routes for shipping cargo in the Yangtze River to reduce the threat on finless porpoise.


Dear Ministry of Commerce People’s Republic of China,

During the 44 day expedition conducted by several research teams, a startling discovery was made based on the results of the population size of finless porpoise inhabiting the Yangtze River. Compared with the previous 2006 survey, a staggering decline of only 172 finless porpoise was observed.

Researchers are attributing such a significant reduction to the increased shipping traffic in certain areas of the river. Since porpoises use a sonar system to communicate and locate food, the volumes of the ships are interfering with migration and foraging patterns. Not to mention the discovery of illegal fishing practices that are also posing an additional threat to porpoise population. Therefore, I urge you to establish alternate shipping routes so as not to expose the finless porpoise to harmful fishing traps and sonar interference.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit:  Kenichi Nobusue via flickr

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