More than 40 species of marine fish currently found in the Mediterranean could disappear in the next few years. According to a study for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ on the status of marine fish in the Mediterranean Sea, almost half of the species of sharks and rays (cartilaginous fish) and at least 12 species of bony fish are threatened with extinction due to overfishing, marine habitat degradation and pollution.
Commercial species like Bluefin Tuna (Thunnus thynnus), Dusky Grouper (Epinephelus marginatus), Sea Bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) or Hake (Merluccius merluccius) are considered threatened or Near Threatened with extinction at the regional level mainly due to overfishing.
"The Mediterranean and Eastern Atlantic population of the Atlantic Bluefin Tuna (Thunnus thynnus) is of particular concern. There has been an estimated 50% decline in this species’ reproduction potential over the past 40 years due to intensive overfishing,” says Kent Carpenter, IUCN Global Marine Species Assessment Coordinator. “The lack of compliance with current quotas combined with widespread underreporting of the catch may have undermined conservation efforts for this species in the Mediterranean."
The use of fishing gear, such as fishing lines, gill or trawling nets, and the illegal use of driftnets means that hundreds of marine animals with no commercial value are captured, threatening populations of many species of sharks, rays and other fish, as well as other marine animals including dolphins, whales, turtles and birds.
“The use of trawling nets is one of the main problems for conservation and sustainability of many marine species,” says Maria del Mar Otero, IUCN-Med Marine Programme Officer. “Because it is not a selective technique, it captures not only the target fish but also a high number of other species while also destroying the sea bottom, where many fish live, reproduce and feed.”
The study emphasizes the need to reinforce fishing regulations, create new marine reserves, reduce pollution and review fishing quotas, in particular the number of captures allowed for threatened species.
“Responsible consumption is one of the ways in which we can all contribute to the conservation of many marine species,” says Catherine Numa, IUCN-Med Species Programme Officer. “Based on the findings of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, we hope that politicians will make the appropriate decisions to secure this important food source for the future, whilst protecting and valuing the biological diversity of the planet at the same time.”
This is the first comprehensive regional IUCN Red List assessment of the native marine fish species for an entire sea. The report also highlights the substantial lack of information on the conservation status of nearly one third of these Mediterranean marine fish (which were assessed as Data Deficient), a significant proportion of which are considered endemic to the region. Further research may show that the Data Deficient group could in fact include a large proportion of threatened fish. Increased funding and research therefore need to be directed towards such Data Deficient species.
> Overview of the conservation status of the marine fishes of the Mediterranean Sea
> Photos are available at: https://rcpt.yousendit.com/1095562617/682412c383805c9fb30a6bdbad6f3eb2
About the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ (or the IUCN Red List) is the world’s most comprehensive information source on the global conservation status of plant and animal species. It is based on an objective system for assessing the risk of extinction of a species should no conservation action be taken.
Species are assigned to one of eight categories of threat based on whether they meet criteria linked to population trend, population size and structure and geographic range. Species listed as Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable are collectively described as ‘Threatened’.
The IUCN Red List is not just a register of names and associated threat categories. It is a rich compendium of information on the threats to the species, their ecological requirements, where they live, and information on conservation actions that can be used to reduce or prevent extinctions. www.iucnredlist.org
IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges by supporting scientific research; managing field projects all over the world; and bringing governments, NGOs, the UN, international conventions and companies together to develop policy, laws and best practice.
The world's oldest and largest global environmental network, IUCN is a democratic membership union with more than 1,000 government and NGO member organizations, and almost 11,000 volunteer scientists and experts in some 160 countries. IUCN's work is supported by over 1,000 professional staff in 60 offices and hundreds of partners in public, NGO and private sectors around the world. IUCN's headquarters are located in Gland, near Geneva, in Switzerland. http://www.iucn.org
About the IUCN Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation
IUCN-Med´s headquarters are located in the Andalusia Technology Park (Parque Tecnólogico de Andalucía) in Malaga, Spain and has over 170 members in the Mediterranean region, including governments, NGOs and governmental agencies. Their mission is to influence, encourage and help Mediterranean societies to conserve and sustainably use natural resources of the area and work with IUCN members and other agencies that share the same goals of the organization.
IUCN-Med receives financial support from the Ministry of Environment of the Junta de Andalucia, the Ministry of Environment and Rural and Marine Affairs and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) among others. http://www.iucn.org/mediterranean