Global freshwater fish populations at risk of extinction, study finds

Freshwater fish are underneath risk, with as many as a 3rd of world populations at risk of extinction, in accordance with an evaluation.

Populations of migratory freshwater fish have plummeted by 76% since 1970, and huge fish – these weighing greater than 30kg – have been all however worn out in most rivers. The world inhabitants of megafish down by 94%, and 16 freshwater fish species have been declared extinct final yr.

The report by 16 world conservation organisations, referred to as The World’s Forgotten Fishes, stated that world populations of freshwater fish have been in freefall. The issues are various and embody air pollution, overfishing and harmful fishing practices, the introduction of invasive non-native species, local weather change and the disruption of river ecologies. Most of the world’s rivers are actually dammed in elements, have water extracted for irrigation or have their pure flows disrupted, making life tough for freshwater fish.

The poor state of UK rivers means few assist as many fish as can be attainable in the event that they have been higher protected, in accordance with the WWF, one of the teams behind Tuesday’s report. Environment Agency information confirmed final yr that no English rivers met the highest chemical standards, and solely 15% of UK rivers have been rated as having good ecological status. Farm air pollution and sewage outflows have been among the many main causes of harm. Dave Tickner, WWF’s chief adviser on freshwater, stated: “Freshwater habitats are some of the most vibrant on earth, but they are in catastrophic decline. The UK is no exception – wildlife struggles to survive, let alone thrive, in our polluted waters.”

Salmon, which spend half of their life cycle in freshwater ecosystems, have been in sharp decline within the UK because the Nineteen Sixties, and the European eel is critically endangered. Burbot and sturgeon are extinct in UK waters.

The Guardian revealed the extent of sewage outflows into rivers final yr. Water corporations discharged sewage into rivers 200,000 occasions in England in 2019.

WWF referred to as on the UK authorities to again an emergency restoration plan for rivers and waterways as half of its wider biodiversity and nature restoration targets. Governments world wide are assembly this yr to debate biodiversity, and halting the destruction of the earth’s pure habitats.

“If we are to take this government’s environmental promises seriously, it must get its act together, clean up our rivers and restore our freshwater habitats to good health,” stated Tickner. “That means proper enforcement of existing laws, strengthening protections in the environment bill to put UK nature on the path to recovery, and championing a strong set of global targets for recovery of nature, including rivers.”

The report discovered that biodiversity in freshwater ecosystems was being misplaced at twice the speed of oceans and forests. There are greater than 18,000 species of freshwater fish recognized, and extra are nonetheless being found. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which compiles the worldwide pink record of species at risk, has assessed greater than 10,000 speciesand discovered that about 30% have been at risk of extinction.

The 16 organisations behind the report have been: Alliance for Freshwater Life, Alliance for Inland Fisheries, Conservation International, Fisheries Conservation Foundation, Freshwaters Illustrated, Global Wildlife Conservation, InFish, the IUCN, the Sustainable Seafood Coalition, Mahseer Trust, Shoal, Synchronicity Earth, the Nature Conservancy, World Fish Migration Foundation, the WWF and Zoological Society of London.

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