Annual fishing catches from the river have fallen more than 40 per cent in recent years, the official China Daily newspaper reported.
 
"It can be mainly blamed on hydropower projects that block fish's migration routes, declining water flow caused by scarce rainfall, over-fishing and severe pollution," an unnamed ministry official was quoted as saying.
 
China's sorrow
 
China's rivers have seen soaring pollution
levels in recent years [EPA]
The Yellow River is the main river in northern China and was once known as "China's sorrow" because of its regular flooding.
 
But in many areas the river, which is the primary water source for more than 150 million people, now barely manages more than trickle.
 
China's rivers have been hit hard by pollution caused by the country's rapid economic growth.
 
This month Pan Yue, the head of China's main environmental body, the State Environmental Protection Agency, said 2006 had been the worst year yet for the country's environment.
 
In December, an international conservation group declared one of China's rarest mammals, the Yangtze River Dolphin or baiji, most likely extinct.
 
The group said soaring pollution levels in the Yangtze, China's longest river, was the primary reason for the animal's demise.