As the number of marine species assessments increases, so does the number of species in danger. The 2007 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species shows that excessive and destructive fishing activities play a primary role in oceans biodiversity loss.
Out of the 41,415 species on the IUCN Red List, 1,530 use the marine environment. Out of these, about 30% are at risk and 80 are threatened with extinction. While some 240 have been newly added to or reassessed for the 2007 Red List, 71% are in jeopardy, with 31 species facing high risks of extinction.
Carl Gustaf Lundin, Head of IUCN’s Global Marine Programme, said: “The rate of species loss in the world’s oceans will continue, and at an accelerated pace, if serious actions aren’t undertaken to overcome what we can call the oceans crisis.”
“Habitat destruction, pollution, climate change and other human-induced disturbances explain why biodiversity is disappearing” he continued. “However, over-fishing and destructive fishing practices represent by far for the most important threat to the marine environment. Fishing operations, from local, often illegal, dynamite fishing to large-scale industrial fishing, have devastating effects and will lead to further extinctions.”
Corals have been assessed and added to the IUCN Red List for the very first time. Ten Galápagos species have entered the list, with two in the Critically Endangered category and one in the Vulnerable category. Wellington’s Solitary Coral (Rhizopsammia wellingtoni) has been listed as Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct). The main threats to these species are the effects of El Niño and climate change.
In just a year, both Spingy Angelsharks and Smoothback Angelsharks have moved from the Endangered to the Critically Endangered category. The two species used to be a common and important deep-water predator over large areas in the Mediterranean Sea and the Eastern Atlantic. Highly vulnerable to by-catch in bottom fishing operations, angelsharks’ abundance has declined dramatically during the past 50 years to the point that they have been extirpated from large areas of the northern Mediterranean and parts of the West African coasts.
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