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SICHUAN, May 18, China.org.cn -- China on Thursday released around 85,000 endangered sturgeon in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River in a bid to help restore the wild population.

"Dabry's sturgeon, a class A protected fish in China that is also called the Yangtze sturgeon, had lost its natural ability to breed since 2000 due to dam constructions, overfishing and river traffic, thus the wild species was near extinction," said Yu Kangzhen, Vice Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

"The Yangtze sturgeon is an important indicator of the ecological health of the Yangtze River," Yu said.

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Yangtze sturgeon [File Photo]

Authorities released 50 adult sturgeon, 5,100 young sturgeon and 80,000 fry at a section of the Yangtze River in Yibin City, southwest China's Sichuan Province.

The release marked the launch of the Dabry's sturgeon rescue program (2018-2035), the country's third such operation for rare species in the Yangtze. The first two were for the Chinese sturgeon and finless porpoise.

The artificially bred adult sturgeons, which have the natural ability to breed, can help restore natural propagation in the wild and ultimately restore the wild population.

Fishery authorities have tagged the adult and young fish so they can track their migration and monitor their activities.

Previously, China released nearly 50,000 Dabry's sturgeon into the country's largest river from 2007, according to Cao Wenxuan, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

"But no naturally-bred sturgeons have been found," Cao said. "With the large release, we hope that the species can naturally reproduce in the future."

In the next three years, authorities are expected to release 100,000 young Dabry's sturgeon and 800 adult sturgeon annually into the river.

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