SEE’s Save the Smile of the Yangtze River Project aims to increase the engagement of social organizations in saving the Yangtze finless porpoise and the effectiveness of their actions. A synergy will hence be formed among governments, higher education and research institutions, enterprises, NGOs and the public to effectively protect this critically endangered species. Ultimately its population will be restored and the vision of a sound and healthy development of the Yangtze ecosystem realized.
With the support from the Ministry of Agriculture, the project has explored and set up an auxiliary patrol system where 106 former fishermen were transferred to rangers and guarding the 11 demonstration sites along the Yangtze River and in Poyang and Dongting Lakes. The mileage of their patrol has amounted to 350,000 kilometers by June 2019. In the meantime, 668 special campaigns against illegal fishing and 220 large-scale joint law enforcement actions of fishery and public security authorities were launched. A stranded finless porpoise was rescued and multiple illegal fishing equipment were eliminated. More than 200 sets of illegal electrofishing equipment were confiscated, over 1,000 fishing traps of various sizes and chains of fyke nets removed, over 20,000 customized bamboo poles pulled up, and more than 20,000 barbed hooks confiscated. The effectiveness and the contribution of the auxiliary patrol system have been recognized within two years by the Ministry of Agriculture and fishery authorities at all levels. It will continue to play a significant role in the protection of the flagship species such as the Yangtze finless porpoise, the Chinese sturgeon, and the Yangtze sturgeon, and contribute with substantial actions to the overall Yangtze conservation.