Friday, 5 June 2015

40% of Europe's sharks and rays face extinction, says IUCN

New red list classifies 7.5% of all marine species as threatened with extinction in first full assessment of the continent’s oceanic biodiversity

Wednesday 3 June 2015 18.41 BSTLast modified on Thursday 4 June 201511.04 BST

About 40% of Europe’s sharks and rays are threatened with extinction, according to the authoritative red list’s first full assessment of Europe’s 1,220 marine species.

Where fish population trends could be measured, nearly a third were found to be in decline by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which publishes the list. The IUCN found 7.5% of all the continent’s marine species at risk of extinction – a number that jumps to 10% when ‘near threatened’ species are counted too.

The findings came on the same day as the World Bank warned of the economic costs of overfishing and the UN general assembly agreed on the need for a new treaty to protect marine life in the high seas.

“It is alarming that many commercially and ecologically important species continue to be at risk in Europe,” said Simon Stuart, the chair of the IUCN’s species survival commission. “We need to take urgent action to reduce target and incidental catches of threatened species, and to set and enforce fishing quotas based on scientific understanding of population declines.”

The IUCN identified overfishing as the primary cause of the decline in marine biodiversity, followed closely by bycatches – accidental fish kills – coastal development, and pollution.

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