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Freshwater fish are in “catastrophic” decline with a third facing extinction, report reveals

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Thousands of fish species are facing “catastrophic” decline – threatening the health, food security and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people worldwide. New study shows that one-third of all freshwater fish now the disappearance of the face.

According to a report published on Tuesday by 16 global conservation groups, 18,075 species of freshwater fish inhabit our oceans, accounting for over half of the world’s total fish species and a quarter of all vertebrates on Earth. it biodiversity it is essential to maintain not only the health of the planet, but the economic prosperity of communities around the world.

About 200 million people across Asia, Africa and South America rely on freshwater fishermen for their main source of protein, researchers in “The Forgotten Fishes of the World” the report. About a third of those people also rely on them for their work and livelihood.

Despite their importance, freshwater fish have been “underestimated and neglected,” the researchers said – and now freshwater biodiversity is declining at twice the rate of oceans and forests.

Eighty freshwater species have already been declared extinct – 16 of them in 2020 alone.

GREECE-ENVIRONMENT
Thousands of dead freshwater fish were seen around Lake Coroneia, Greece, on September 19, 2019.

SAKIS MITROLIDIS / AFP through Getty Images


“Nowhere is the nature crisis in the world sharper than in our rivers, lakes and wetlands, and the clearest indicator of the damage we are doing is the rapid decline of freshwater fish populations. They are the aquatic version of the canary.” in the coal mine, and we must heed the warning, “said Stuart Orr of the World Wildlife Fund. “Despite their importance to local communities and indigenous peoples across the globe, freshwater fish have been invariably forgotten and are not factored into development decisions regarding hydropower dams or water use or construction in floodplains. “

Migratory species have declined by more than three-quarters in the last 50 years, while populations of larger species, known as “megafish”, have declined by a “catastrophic” 94%.

Freshwater ecosystems face a devastating combination of threats – including habitat destruction, hydropower dams, removal of excess irrigation water, various types of pollution, overfishing, introduction of invasive and persistent species climate change.

Organizations including the World Wildlife Fund, Global Wildlife Conservation and Nature Conservation have now called on governments to implement a “Emergency recovery plan“to preserve freshwater biodiversity. They recommend protecting and restoring rivers, water quality and essential habitats – reversing the damage caused by overfishing.

“Freshwater fish are important to human health and the freshwater ecosystems on which all humans and all life on earth depend,” Orr said. “It’s time to remember that.”

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