Joint Petition by Experts on Hydropower Impacts Over Fisheries

Date: 
Monday, May 11, 2009

Experts signed a joint petition calling for attention to the impact of overdevelopment of hydropower on the fish

Translated by Sinan Chu, International Rivers

Originally published in China Economic

Recently, several experts signed a joint petition calling for attention to the impact of overdevelopment of hydropower on the endemic and rare fish in the upper reach of Yangtze River, including Prof. Lu Zhi, a professor of conservation biology from Peking University; Dr. Xie Dan from the Center of China Species Information Service; Zheng Yisheng, a research associate from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences; Fan Xiao, the chief engineer of the Regional Geological Survey Party of the Sichuan Bureau of Geological Exploration and Exploitation of Mineral Resources; Wang Yongchen, the coordinator of the Green Home Volunteer; Li Bo, the director of the Friends of Nature; Yu Xiaogang, the chairman of the Yunnan Participatory Watershed Management Research and Promotion Center; and Majun, the director of the Center of Public Environmental Studies.

The petition argues that, the Yangtze River is the third longest river in the world, as well as the richest river in China in terms of the aquatic organisms living in its waters. For many years, activities such as flood storage and reclamation, pollution, overfishing and the development of river transportation systems have posed serious threats to fish resources in the Yangtze River. Particulary in recent years, the development of hydropower has been squeezing the living space of endemic fish. The cumulative effect of the overdevelopment of hydropower will destroy the moving-water habitat in the aquatic species-concentrated region of the upper reaches of Yangtze River, and will therefore cause irreversible impact to the endemic and rare fish species of that region. Although researchers have created preservation plans, most of their methods were not practicable. The destruction of habitat is fatal to these species. To save the rare fish species in the Yangtze River, we must stop overdevelopment of hydropower.

The full text of the petition is shown below:

The Yangtze River is the third longest river in the world and the river richest in aquatic species in China. For many years, activities such as flood storage and reclamation, pollution, overfishing and the development of river transportation systems have posed serious a threat to the fish resources in the Yangtze River. Within the water basin of the Yangtze River, the upper reaches are especially rich in fish species. Much more endemic fish of China are found in the upper than in the middle and lower reaches of the river.

Today the focus of hydropower development on the Yangtze River has relocated from the Three Gorges Dam up to the Jinsha River and its upper tributary branches. The number of dams being built, the size of the dams, and the degree of cascade concentration is rare around the world. As we keep our eyes on and study the environmental impact of the development of hydropower, and participate in the public review of the environmental assessments of these hydroelectric projects, we have been receiving warnings from aquatic preservation experts. These warnings point out that the cumulative effect of the overdevelopment of hydropower will destroy the moving-water habitat in the aquatic species-concentrated area of the upper reaches of Yangtze River, and therefore will cause irreversible impacts on endemic and rare aquatic species.

Cascade Development in the Upper Reaches of Yangtze River in Full Swing

According to the cascade development plan recommended in the "Comprehensive Planning Report of the Mainstream of Jinsha River," which was compiled by the Yangtze River Water Resource Committee in October 2003, the development of hydropower of the Jinsha River consists of 19 cascades. Among which, six cascades located in the middle and lower reaches of the river, which are Jin'anqiao, Guanyinyan, Wudongde, Baihetan, Xiluodu and Xiangjiaba, are recent projects.
According to the "Brief Report of the Comprehensive Utilization of Yangtze River", the number of proposed cascade hydropower plants in the middle and lower reach of Jinsha River has increased to 12, with a total capacity of 58.58 GW. The river course from Yalong estuary to Yibin will be developed with 4 cascading dams, namely, Xiangjiaba, Xiluodu, Baihetan and Wudongde. On the other hand, a cascade with 8 dams is to be built in the middle reach, from Benzilan to Yalong estuary, which consists of Shanghu Tiaoxia Dam, Liangjiaren, Liyuan, Ahai, Longkaikou, Jin'anqiao, Ludila and Guanyinyan.

By the end of 2008, the Jin'anqiao hydroelectric station in the middle reach of the Jinsha River, and the Xiluodu and Xiangjiaba power station in the lower reach have all launched their construction. We have learned that several hydropower plants located in the middle and lower reaches of the river are speeding up their preparation in order to launch their construction in this or next year.

Around the time when the development of Jinsha River was initiated, the cascade development of major tributary streams in the upper reaches of Yangtze River was also launched at a great scale. 10 cascade power stations have been planned in the upper reaches of the mainstream of Min River, above Dujiangyang, 7 more in the middle and lower reach. The development of the main stream of Dadu River consists of 22 cascades. After the two cascades of Shawan and Angu were added in, the overall number of cascades has increased to 24. The development of the main stream of Yalong river consists of 21 cascades, the main stream of Wu River 12 cascades, and the main stream of Jialing River 17 cascades.

While "canalization" is being practiced everywhere throughout the main stream of the rivers, the tributary branches of these rivers are also loaded with a great number of cascade developments. Take their major branches as an example, there are 56 cascades in the Gangqu River, Pudu River, Niulan River, Heng River and Baishui River, etc. of the basin of Jinsha River. There are 10 cascades in the Furong River and 6 in the Maotiao River of the Wu River Basin. There are 31 cascades in the main stream of Fu River of the Jialing River Basin, 4 in the Huoxi River in the upper reaches of Fu River, 3 in the Huyang River of the upper reaches of Fu River. There are 5 in the Ba River in the upper reaches of Qu River, 9 in the Mabian River and 18 in the Qingyi River of the basin of Min River; 8 in the Dam I of Zakunao River and 5 in the Dam II of Heishui River. In addition, in the Dadu River Basin, there are 7 cascades in Dam 1 of Wasigou, 8 in the Suomo River, 17 in the Xiaojinchuan River, 4 in the Dam II of Tianwan River, 7 in the Nanya River, 7 in the Guanliao River. At last, in the basin of Yalong River, there are 6 cascades in the Jiulong River and 6 in the Dam I of Muli River.

Cascade development can maximize the benefit of power generation. However, given such concentrated constructions, the cumulative effect resulting from the formation and operation of the cascade reservoirs will be far greater than that from the construction of any single hydropower station. Once launched, these cascade projects will lead to irreversible impacts on the aquatic species in the upper reach of Yangtze River, especially endemic and rare fish species.
Development of Hydroelectricity Keeps Squeezing the Living Space of Endemic Fish
There are 338 kinds of fresh water fish in the Yangtze River, accounting for one-third of the total amount of fresh water fish in the country. Also, among the 265 types of endemic fish found in the China, 162 live in Yangtze River, which accounts for 60.36% of the total.

There are many endemic fish species living in Yangtze River. In other words, these fish species can only be found in China and are used to the water condition of the upper reach of Yangtze River. Back in 1970s, the endemic fish living in the upper reach of Yangtze River was still large in quantity, many of which were the major commercial fish of Sichuan Province, accounting for a considerable proportion in fish production. Since the 1980s, many species have suffered a dramatic decrease in their numbers and became no longer fit for commercial fishing. The fishery resource has diminished greatly. In 1989, Gezhouba hydropower plant was built, which completely blocked the migration path of the Chinese sturgeon and drove them nearly to extinction in the upper reach of Yangtze River.

In 1994, the construction of the Three Gorges Dam was launched. According to the experts, about 40 fish species will suffer negative effects from the project, which accounts for 40% of the endemic species in the upper reach. Their habitat shrank by one-fourth from the original size. As a result, the number of these species will no doubt decrease.

According to the environmental preservation plan of the construction of the Three Gorges Dam, a natural preservation region for the endemic and rare fish was established in the area ranging from the town of Luzhou to the town of Xinshi in Yinbin, in order to better preserve the endemic fish resource in the upper reach of Yangtze River, and reduce the negative effect on the fish resource brought about by the construction of the Three Gorges Dam. In 1996, the government of Luzhou city and administrative body of the region of Yibin, respectively, approved the establishment of the Natural Preservation Region of Endemic and Rare Fish in the Course of Luzhou of Yangtze River, and the Natural Preservation Region of Endemic and Rare Fish in the Course of Yibin of Yangtze River. In 1997, the provincial government of Sichuan approved the merger of these two preservation regions, which led to the founding of the Provincial Natural Preservation Region of Endemic and Rare Fish in the He River-Leibo course of the Yangtze River. In April 2000, the State Council approved that the preservation region be elevated to the State Natural Preservation Region of Endemic and Rare Fish in the Course of He River-Leibo of Yangtze River.

However, during the same year when the state preservation region was established, the hydroelectricity development moved towards the upper reaches of the Jinsha River as planned. Both of the two large dams, Xiangjiaba and Xiluodu, being planned at the time are located within the preservation region. In the article 32 of the "Regulations of Natural Preservation Region of the People's Republic of China," it is clearly stated that no industrial facilities shall be built in the core or buffer area of a natural preservation region. The Xiangjiaba Dam, which is 161 meters in height, is located right in the core area of the state natural preservation region. The Xiluodu Dam, which is 278 meters in height, is less than 4 kilometers from the upper boundary of the core area of the preservation region. After construction was complete, these two dams became almost connected with each other. As a result, the core area of the State Natural Preservation Region of Endemic and Rare Fish in the Course He River-Leibo of Yangtze River was turned into a reservoir, with the moving water habitat completely gone. 90% of the breeding site for the paddlefish and 50% of the breeding site for Huso dauricus was devoured by the reservoir. The reproduction of Coreius guichenoti became highly difficult due to the destruction of their habitat.

To give way to the development of hydroelectricity on the Jinsha River, the State Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) issued the "Reply to Related Concerns about the Phase-1 Construction of the Jinsha River and the State Natural Preservation Region of Endemic and Rare Fish in the Course of He River-Leibo of Yangtze River," as a response to the request from the State Institute of Hydroelectric Planning and Design, in which the State Institute of Hydroelectric Planning and Design was asked to organize studies and research on the construction's impact on the preservation region and alternative plans to construction and the preservation region. In February 2003, the provincial government of Sichuan submitted to the State Council for approval the "Request for Adjusting the Scope and Functional Region of and the Renaming of the State Natural Preservation Region of Endemic and Rare Fish in the He River-Leibo Course of the Yangtze River." The plan for adjusting the scope and functional region was further submitted by the state agencies to the SEPA in July 2004, and was officially approved by the State Council in April 2005. Thereafter, the preservation region was renamed the "State Natural Preservation Region of Endemic and Rare Fish in the Upper Reaches of Yangtze River."

Xiaonanhai Hydroelectric Station: the Last Refuge in Danger?

While the development of hydroelectricity continued in full swing, several fish experts considered the preservation region to be the most important and last refuge for endemic and rare fish in the upper reaches of Yangtze River, as it is an important breeding, spawning, wintering site and habitat to many highly-protected fish species, especially the endemic fish of the upper reaches of the Yangtze River.

However, in less than three years since the establishment of the new state natural preservation region, a new wave of hydroelectricity development has come about. It is suggested that, according to the "Plan of Comprehensive Utilization of the Yangtze River Basin" established in 1990, large power stations including Xiaonanhai, Zhuyangxi and Shipeng shall be built on the mainstream of Yangtze River, in the upper river course of the Three Gorges Dam and lower course of the Xiangjiaba Dam. Among them, the Xiaonanhai Water Control Project has already proceeded into the demonstration stage. As the backbone of the local power grid, the Xiaonanhai Dam is 206.5 meters above sea level. The proposed dam site is located in the lower reaches, l.5 kilometers away from the town of Luohuang of Chongqing City, right inside the State Preservation Region of Endemic and Rare Fish of the Upper Reach of Yangtze River.

Since the project is in violation of the natural preservation region, according to the request in the Letter of Chongqing People's Government No. 210 (2008), as well as other related legislations and regulations and "the guiding spirit from the leadership of the department concerning advancing the early stage constructions of Xiaonanhai hydropower plants," the Ministry of Agriculture organized an expert panel in 2009 from February 17th to 18th, to study the report submitted by the municipal government of Chongqing, "A Special Research Report on the Impact of Yangtze River Xiaonanhai Hydroelectric Station Project on the State Natural Preservation Region of Endemic and Rare Fish of the Upper Reaches of Yangtze River and Strategies for Impact Reduction" (hereafter referred to as "Special report").

During the panel discussion, experts pointed out that the State Natural Preservation Region of Endemic and Rare Fish of the Upper Reaches of Yangtze River is key to reducing the impact on fish resources from the Three Gorges Dam and the cascade development on the Jinsha River. Its role in preserving the species and fishery resources in the Yangtze River is very important and cannot be substituted. Experts also pointed out that the river course of Xiaonanhai is an important habitat and natural passage for the endemic and rare fish of the preservation region. Every year about 15 billion fish seedlings go through this water region. The construction of Xiaonanhai hydroelectric station will result in certain impacts on the aquatic species resource and function of the preservation region.

The experts from the Nanjing Institute of Environmental Science under the Ministry of Environmental Protection once suggested an even more serious prediction, after they analyzed the influence of the Xiaonanhai hydroelectric project on the State Natural Preservation Region of Endemic and Rare Fish of the Upper Reach of Yangtze River: the cumulative effect of the Xiaonanhai development and other cascade hydropower plants will change dramatically the environment of the water's ecological system, resulting in destructive impacts on the inhabiting endemic fish species.

The experts from the Ministry of Environmental Protection suggested that, the proposed Xiaohanhai Dam will become a giant physical barrier, which will cut off the lower reach of the river from its upper reach, therefore blocking the migration passage of migratory fish from both directions. The area submerged by Xiaonanhai project includes the buffer and experimental area of the natural preservation region of endemic and rare fish. It will not only cause a great loss to the breeding and inhabiting sites of several endemic and rare fish, but will also change the moving water habitat within the region into static water. There will also be huge changes in the water flow in the lower reach of the river below the dam site: the seasonal change of the flow rate becomes the irregular change adjusted by people. The dam discharge will also lead to changes in a series of indicators of the water in some certain courses of the lower reach, including velocity and rate of water flow, and the temperature and quality of water, etc., therefore causing considerable influence to the habitat within the region. Once the three cascade power stations, Xiaonanhai, Zhuyangxi and Shipeng, are built, the core and experimental area around the mainstream of the Yangtze River will no long exist, leaving only 41.9 kilometers of buffer area behind. The dam site will submerge a total of 30 breeding sites and concentrated areas of the endemic and rare fish species. The structure and function of the preservation region will be almost entirely lost and destroyed.

However, according to public reports, during the panel discussion of the project, the expert group only offered a vague suggestion, which said that "solutions should be designed in accordance with related legislations such as the ‘Regulations of Natural Preservation Region of the People's Republic of China.' "

Apparently, this implies that the scope of the preservation region needs to be again adjusted. Whether adjustments should be applied has become a dilemma. If we don't make adjustments, the function of the preservation region can hardly be maintained due to the invasion of the hydroelectric development. If we are to make adjustments, where shall we put the preservation region, given the fact that almost all the mainstream and tributary branches of Yangtze River are now crowded with planned cascade dams?

The dilemma is not exclusive to the decision making of Xiaonanhai hydroelectric station. The 4-dam cascade in the lower reaches of the Jinsha River, the 8-dam cascade in the middle reach of the Jinsha River, as well as the concentrated development of hydropower plants in the mainstream and tributary branches of Min River, Dadu river, Yalong River, Wu River and Jialing River are all facing the same problem. For two decades, the habitat of endemic and rare fish of the upper reach of Yangtze River has been forced to move, in order to make way for hydropower development, from Gezhouba Dam to Three Gorges Dam, then from Three Gorges Dam to Xiluodu, and then from Xiluodu to Xiaonanhai. Since another station is now being built at Xiaonanhai, it is likely that the habitat will be relocated once again to Min River. At the same time it is learned that one to two cascade hydropower plants are also being considered in the experimental area of the natural preservation region in the lower reach of Min River.

Seeing the fish habitat being torn apart by the planning and construction of the hydroelectric stations, experts have exhausted their wisdom in making remedial plans for every dam's environmental impact assessment. But can these so-called remedial plans really save the endemic and rare fish in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, which have already been pushed to cliff's edge?

Most Remedial Plans Are Not Applicable

The recent published abridged version of the Environmental Assessment Report of hydroelectric stations in the upper reach of the Yangtze River such as Ahai and Guanyinyan provides the public with the opportunity to know about the potential environmental impact identified by the environmental assessment, as well as the remedial plan suggested by the experts. With the information being made public, several environmental organizations consulted the experts regarding the abridged version of the Environmental Assessment Report of Ahai and Guanyinyan, and the preservation method suggested in the reply to the public query. Several experts pointed out that, given the current situation of the middle reaches of the Jinsha River where the 8-dam cascade is being developed, methods such as on-site preservation, artificial reproduction and releasing, and cross dam fish mating which were mentioned in the abridged version of the Environmental Assessment Report are very unlikely to be effective in protecting fish species.

Take artificial reproduction and releasing as an example, several experts mentioned that, as the condition is rendered no longer fit for fish to live due to the construction of the dam, artificial releasing will do no good to the preservation of these species. It is said in the abridged version of the Environmental Assessment Report of Ahai and the reply made by the hydroelectric companies to the public that "there is suitable habitat along the middle reach of Jinsha River for artificial reproduction and releasing, the major task is to make a choice between hydroelectric development of the mainstream and tributary branches of the river and the preservation. Once the planning and development of the tributary branches follows the planning and development of the mainstream, it is guaranteed that we can find suitable habitats for artificial reproduction and releasing." The above conclusion is not supported with evidence, neither is any specific plan attached to it. Basing action on an idea that has not yet been practiced is clearly useless to resolving the current serious threats.

On the other hand, some experts also suggested that the artificial reproductive technology for many endemic and rare fish has not yet been successful or become mature. This is further acknowledged by the review document of the construction of the Jinsha hydroelectric station.
When answering the public query, however, the development agencies replied in a very vague tone that "if (the project) receives sufficient recognition from the construction units and society, with sufficient time, funding and research effort, and more participation of scholars and experts in scientific studies, the artificial reproduction and releasing technology for fish will become technologically mature and practicable." Such a statement is based on premises that are not yet tested. For the fish preservation in the projects currently being developed, the method is unconvincing.

Unlike the case of the Three Gorges Dam, Xiluodu and Ahai Dam, the environmental assessment report of Xiaonanhai Hydroelectric station considers the construction of a bionic passage and fish traveling facility as its major remedial method. In the discussion panel on the Special Report of Xiaonanhai, the expert group emphasized that the fish traveling facility must be demonstrated and tested carefully. In fact, whether the fish passage can reduce effectively the influence of the dam on fish migrations remains controversial. Cao Wenxuan, an Academician of the Chinese Academy of Science and a research associate of the Institute of Aquatic Biology of the Chinese Academy of Science, said that building a fish passage is not an effective way of protecting the fish in the basin of Yangtze River. The reason is that most endemic and rare fish in the upper reach of Yangtze River are more used to high-speed moving water. The static water in the reservoir due to the construction of the dam is not suitable for them. Especially in the case of a cascade hydropower station, the high-speed moving water habitat is destroyed completely, simply building a fish traveling passage cannot solve the task of preservation.

Also, Prof. Cao suggests that building a fish traveling facility cannot solve the problem of genetic communication between fish groups across the dam, since it could only serve fish traveling upwards but could not draw fish to go downwards. On the other hand, for many fish that lay pelagic eggs, the fish eggs and larvae grow while floating, and it usually takes 400 to 500 kilometers before the larvae become capable of swimming. These fish cannot reproduce in the reservoir and therefore cannot "communicate." For those endemic fish species that are used to living in high-speed moving water and feed on the benthos, they have become nearly extinct in the reservoir because their habitat no longer exists. They cannot communicate across the dam either.

The Disappearance of Habitat is Fatal

As we can see from the environmental assessment report and the process of disclosing information and public participation that followed, the major influence resulted from the development of hydroelectricity is the disappearance of the moving water habitat in the valley. This is a serious or even fatal impact to many fish species living in the basin, especially those who reproduce in moving water.

Take Guanyinyan hydroelectric station as an example, the abridged version of its Environmental Assessment Report confirms that, "the river course where the reservoir of Guanyinyan hydroelectric station is at was basically a valley of moving water habitat before the reservoir impoundment, it is not only the place where endemic fish live, but also the breeding site for many fish species who lay their eggs in rapid streams. Following the impoundment, the torrent and shoals will be submerged while the reservoir will become a basin of slow flow, and the breeding sites for many fish will disappear."

Scholars and experts further point out that the impact of hydroelectricity development on the upper reaches of the Yangtze River needs to be viewed from the perspective of cumulative effects of cascade development. The habitat type along the Jinsha River and other rivers will be fundamentally changed once these cascade developments are realized; the cumulative effect will be far greater than the influence of the construction of any single power station. Related researches also indicate that not only the operation of cascade dams influence the endemic fish in the upper reach of Yangtze River, but also that the Hutiaoxia cascade dam will influence the Schizothorax species who are living in the fish zone of the Western Sichuan Plateau of Tibet.

Take Guanyinyan as an example, the abridged version of its Environmental Assessment Report shows that the Guanyinyan hydroelectric station will destroy the habitat of pelagic egg laying fish: "if we ignore the cascades built in the upper reach of Guanyinyan, these species will gradually move to the upper reach of the mainstream or to tributary streams entering the reservoir to breed and reproduce. Especially for those pelagic eggs laying fish, since the water flow slows down, the fish eggs from the mainstream above the reservoir tail and from the breeding sites in the tributary streams will sink to the bottom of the reservoir, both the breeding rate and survival rate will decrease considerably. The fish resource will be affected to a certain degree. If we take into consideration the cascade development in the mainstream, then those pelagic eggs laying fish will not be able to complete their life cycle; without counter measure to offer them protection, these fish species will soon disappear from this water."

We Must Stop Overdevelopment of Hydroelectricity to Save the Endemic Fish in the Yangtze River

In order to prevent the endemic and rare fish in the upper reach of Yangtze River from being driven to extinction, we here appeal for immediate actions which could synthesize and balance development and protection, bring a halt to the overdevelopment of hydroelectricity and protect the endemic and rare fish. Specific suggestions are given below:

1. Carry out a careful fish resource investigations, avoiding planning and making decisions without sufficient knowledge of the situation
Several experts have pointed out, according to the abridged version of the Ahai Environmental Assessment Report, the river course in the middle reaches where Ahai is situated has a total number of 154 fish species, among which 54 are endemic species. However, only 16 species were found during a field investigation. The abridged version of the Guanyinyan Environmental Assessment Report believes that, according to past literature and investigations, there are 160 fish species in the middle reach of the Jinsha River, 90 of which live primarily in the Guanyinyan reservoir and river course close to the dam. However, only 40 species were found in the abridged version of the Environmental Assessment Report. The gap between the investigation and historic data is too large, suggesting flaws in the environment investigation. Based on such a flawed environmental situation investigations and unclear description, both the reliability of the conclusion of environmental assessment and the practicability of suggested actions are questionable.

2. Enhance the elementary research of the reproduction of endemic and rare fish, and avoid using it as the major remedial method before this technology becomes mature
Since the study on many endemic and rare fish is not enough, our understanding about their behavior and habit is quite limited. Also, the reproductive technology for those fish has not yet been successful or become mature. Government agencies in charge should be paying close attention to it. Construction and research units should put in enough time, fund and research efforts in order to bring the artificial reproduction and releasing technology to maturity. We hope that the development of the project can be postponed. We should not consider taking further actions on developing hydroelectricity until we have conducted sufficient studies on the behavior of these fish species and the environmental conditions of those rivers, and we are equipped with more mature preservation techniques, including artificial reproduction, breeding technology of seedlings, adult fish and parental fish.

3. Moderate Development Must Be Enforced in Order To Maintain Living Space for Endemic and Rare Fish
Fish experts pointed out that, it is in violation of the fundamental principle of species preservation that people rely on artificial means to preserve the species structure and resource, when the natural habitat is being destroyed. The best species preservation principle is habitat preservation. Relying on artificial means to preserve large number of fish species that have lost their habitat has no precedent around the globe or in any comprehensive and mature technology and management plan. It is impracticable not only today but also for quite a while in the future.
During the review of Ahai hydroelectricity station, the participating experts mentioned that, in order to harmonize the relationship between the hydroelectricity development and environmental protection, instead of making use of 100% of the hydro resource in a basin for cascade development, today the general trend of hydroelectricity development around the world is to develop the hydro resource in a selective and moderate manner. Maintaining a certain area of moving water habitat between two hydropower stations is crucial for reducing the negative effect resulted from the basin development. Therefore, (experts) suggest that close attention should be paid on the cumulative effect resulting from cascade development.

We hope that the decision-making body will consider carefully this suggestion, that is, we should develop hydro resource in a selective and moderate manner, and maintain a certain area of moving water habitat between the stations, so that we can reduce the negative effects resulted from the hydroelectricity development and prevent the decline of local endemic and rare fish in the Yangtze River.

Regarding the special importance of protecting the fish in the two dam sites currently under review, we here proposed our recommendation:

1. The State Natural Preservation Region of Endemic and Rare Fish in the Upper Reaches of the Yangtze River is the last refuge for many endemic and rare fish today and in the future. We hope that the decision-making body will weigh carefully both the needs of development and protection, and reject the Xiaonanhai, Zhuyangxi and Shipeng hydroelectric projects which produce only very limited economic contributions and tremendous environmental impacts.

2. Guanyinyan is located in the last cascade of the 8-dam cascade in the middle reach of the Jinsha River. Several fish experts consider that this river course is of crucial importance to maintaining the pelagic eggs laying fish groups such as largemouth bronze gudgeon. We wish that its importance be recognized and that in considering the need for environmental protection of the 8-dam cascade, relevant parties should seriously consider a zero-dam plan for Guanyinyan power station, as well as give up this cascade and two other smaller cascades planned by the local government, so that we could preserve the habitat for species like largemouth bronze gudgeon.

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