The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) published its updated Red List of Threatened Species and includes the first ever comprehensive assessment of freshwater fish.
The report revealed that 25 percent – 3,086 out of 14,898 assessed species – are at risk of extinction. At least 17 percent of threatened freshwater fish species are affected by climate change, including decreasing water levels, rising sea levels causing seawater to move up rivers, and shifting seasons. This comes in addition to threats from pollution, which impacts 57 percent of freshwater fish species at risk of extinction, dams and water extraction, which affect 45 percent , overfishing, which threatens 25 percent, and invasive species and disease, which harm 33 percent.
Co-Chair of the IUCN SSC Freshwater Fish Specialist Group, Kathy Hughes, stressed that “freshwater fishes make up more than half of the world’s known fish species, an incomprehensible diversity given that freshwater ecosystems comprise only 1% of aquatic habitat. These diverse species are integral to the ecosystem, and vital to its resilience. This is essential to the billions of people who rely upon freshwater ecosystems, and the millions of people who rely on their fisheries. Ensuring freshwater ecosystems are well managed, remain free-flowing with sufficient water, and good water quality is essential to stop species declines and maintain food security, livelihoods and economies in a climate resilient world.”
The IUCN Red List now includes 157,190 species, of which 44,016 are threatened with extinction.