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Departments create catalog to track invasive species

By XU WEI | China Daily | Updated: 2022-12-07 08:46
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China has included 59 species in a catalog of creatures that will be subject to stringent control measures as the country strengthens efforts to prevent the introduction and spread of invasive species.

In a statement released on Nov 29, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said the catalog, which it released with five other ministerial departments, was created in response to the mounting risk posed by invasive species.

The ministry attributed this to long land borders, foreign exchanges, the illegal introduction and breeding of exotic pets and unlawful release of animals into the wild.

Among the 59 species are the alligator gar, the fall armyworm, the Canadian goldenrod and the red imported fire ant.

The species in the catalog could potentially hinder agricultural production and even cause crop failures, as they pose major threats to biodiversity and to the ecosystem.

"Their proliferation will result in the death of native species in large numbers," the ministry said.

They are found to be spreading quickly and are difficult to contain, posing a major threat to farmland, grassland and forests, it added.

Alligator gars — razor-toothed fish known for their ravenous appetite — made headlines in August after authorities in Ruzhou, Henan province, drained an artificial lake to catch some that had been released illegally.

It was one of many cases involving the invasive species, which originates in North America. The fish can reportedly eat as much as 5 percent of its body weight in one day and can cause serious harm to the ecosystem.

According to a report by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, some 660 invasive species had already been discovered by 2020, including 71 that have already posed a threat to the ecosystem.

China adopted its first Biosecurity Law in April last year, a move seen by many experts as a milestone in curbing biological hazards and responding to the threat of invasive species.

A national regulation on the management of the species took effect in August as part of broader measures to respond to the harm they pose, ensure the sustainable development of the agricultural sector and protect biodiversity.

The ministry said authorities will prioritize the capture of species identified in the catalog.

It added that the government will step up quarantine efforts at borders, keep better track of the numbers of the species in the country, and improve monitoring and early warning networks to ensure they are quickly captured.

Liu Wanxue, a professor who studies biological invasion at the Institute of Plant Protection at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, said curbing the spread of invasive species requires efforts across society.

"Many invasive species are brought into the country because international passengers have, consciously or unconsciously, carried them across borders. People should have a greater awareness of the risks of such behavior," he said.


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