Experts hope the critically endangered finless porpoise will be
better protected after the country's first regional regulation about the
species came into force on Jan 1 in Anqing, Anhui province.
Passed by the city's people's congress, the Anqing Regulation on the
Protection of the Yangtze Finless Porpoise strengthens efforts to save
the highly intelligent species from extinction, said Yu Daoping, an
expert of finless porpoise protection at Anqing Normal University.
"The new regulation provides a legal basis to further curb human activities that would be harmful to the species," he said.
Following the introduction of a ban on fishing in the main stream of
the Yangtze River and its key tributaries from the start of this year,
the Anqing regulation extends the ban to other key waters in the city to
protect the finless porpoises' food sources.
The regulation also prohibits construction projects unrelated to
ecological restoration and restricts the passing of vessels in the
species' main habitats, which include a nature reserve and a relocation
zone in the city.
Finless porpoises－dubbed "water pandas" because they are rarer than
the giant panda－have been placed under protection by various government
A national survey conducted in 2018 showed there were about 1,020
finless porpoises, Yu said, adding that there are about 250 in Anqing.
Yu, a professor at the university, has been engaged in researching and protecting cetaceans for 35 years.
He said there are eight nature reserves for the finless porpoise
along the Yangzte River in Anhui, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu and Jiangxi
provinces, in addition to four relocation zones in Anhui and Hubei.
"About half of the population has been well protected by current laws and regulations," he said.
Anhui and Hubei each have four protected areas.
Protection of the species had mainly been based on the national
fisheries law, wildlife protection law and regulations on natural
reserves, Yu said, adding that the laws and regulations had their
"Take the national regulations on nature reserves, for example. They
are more suitable for administration of closed ecological systems but
often fail to curb human activities harmful to the species in open
waters, such as the construction of bridges and passing of vessels," he
"I hope that through the legislative efforts and hopefully effective
practice of the city, provincial regulations will be enacted in the
future," Yu said.