In the News: Third of freshwater fish threatened with extinction
More than a third of freshwater fish are threatened with extinction, according to interim results from an IUCN Red List assessment. The preliminary results, revealed by scientists at the annual conference of the Fisheries Society of the British Isles at Bournemouth University, suggest that along with amphibians, freshwater fish may now be considered one of the most threatened groups of species in the world.
Dr William Darwall, manager of the freshwater unit at the IUCN in Cambridge, says, "There are still some big gaps in our knowledge, but of the 5,685 species that have been assessed, 36 per cent of them are threatened."
Several UK species are currently at risk of extinction, including the European eel. Globally, species such as the Atlantic sturgeon and the Mekong giant catfish are Critically Endangered.
The European eel has declined by 90 percent since the early 1980s, while the Atlantic sturgeon, which is the source of one of the most expensive forms of caviar and was once common in rivers around Europe, is now only found in a single river in France, where it has an estimated population of between 20 and 750 individuals. The Mekong giant catfish may be down to just 250 individuals in the wild.
Many little-known fish which become isolated in remote waterways are also among those with the greatest risk of dying out.