LONDONR Nearly a third of all freshwater fish species are threatened with extinction, according to a new report released by 16 conservation groups on Tuesday.
The migratory population has declined by more than three-quarters since the 1970s, while the populations of larger species, weighing more than 60 pounds, have declined by an even more catastrophic percentage, she said.
While freshwater fish are important to the healthy functioning of the world’s rivers, lakes and wetlands, millions of people around the world also depend on them for their food security and livelihood, including in vulnerable and indigenous communities. Their rapid decline could put societies and economies at risk across the globe, the report said.
Post-report conservation groups, incl World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Global Wildlife Conservation, point to a combination of pressures on global freshwater fish populations, including habitat degradation, damming and drainage of rivers and wetlands, pollution, the introduction of invasive species, wildlife crime, and the growing threat of change of climate.
Of the more than 10,000 species whose conservation status has been assessed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, 30 per cent are considered endangered, the report said.
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The study calls freshwater fish underestimated, “with WWF’s Stuart Orr saying freshwater fish are often forgotten in global debates about climate, biodiversity and global development.
I think this report is 16 organizations coming together to highlight on the one hand the incredible diversity of freshwater fish species, but on the other hand I remind people that these species are declining and associated with many food security, jobs and cultural services, Orr told NBC News by phone from Gland, Switzerland.
As we look to adapt to climate change and begin to think about all the discussions governments will make about biodiversity, it really is a time for us to shine a light on fresh water, he added.
The report calls for an emergency recovery plan to reverse decades of decline by protecting and restoring natural river flows, water quality and critical habitats while reversing the damage caused by overfishing.
Orr said a United Nations conference on biodiversity taking place in China later this year would be a chance for governments to talk about the crisis and, for the first time, pay as much attention to protecting and restoring freshwater life support systems rather than the forests of the worlds and oceans
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