A leading international conservation agency has warned that 28% of the 138,374 species identified on its “survival list” as threatened have now been moved to the more dangerous “red list”, meaning they are high risk of extinction.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reported during its annual Red List update on Saturday in Marseille, France, that despite a global improvement in species, the number of species at high risk continues to increase.
The organization said many regional tuna stocks remain severely depleted. For example, yellowfin continues to be overexploited in the Indian Ocean.
Their update also included a reassessment of shark and ray species around the world, which shows 37% of those species are now threatened with extinction. All endangered shark and ray species are overexploited, IUCN reported, with 31% of them still affected by habitat loss and degradation and 10% also affected by climate change.
“We note striking similarities between shark and ray statistics and recent estimates for plants: about 2 in 5 are threatened with extinction, and habitat loss and degradation presents more immediate threats than climate change, “said Dr Eimear Nic Lughadha, a conservation scientist. at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
Additionally, the Komodo dragon, the world’s largest lizard, is now considered endangered due to significant habitat loss due to ongoing human activities and climate change, IUCN reported.
“The idea that these prehistoric animals have moved closer to extinction in part because of climate change is terrifying – and another clear call for nature to be placed at the heart of all decision-making on the eve of COP26 in Glasgow, ”said Dr Andrew Terry, director of conservation at the Zoological Society of London.
COP26, a United Nations climate change conference, will take place in November. Alok Sharma, President of COP26, has already said he wants the climate talks this year reaching agreement on a number of key goals, including stopping the use of coal, committing to reduce emissions from all new cars within the next 14-19 years, stopping deforestation by the end of the decade and greater reductions in methane emissions.
There is reason to hope for species at risk: of the seven most commercially fished tuna species that have been reassessed, four of them are showing signs that they are starting to recover after countries imposed more sustainable fishing quotas and have successfully tackled illegal fishing, IUCN noted.
The four tuna species include Atlantic bluefin tuna, which has changed from ‘endangered’ to ‘least concern’, southern bluefin tuna, which has changed from ‘critically endangered’ to ‘endangered’, albacore and yellowfin tuna, both of which have gone from “near threatened” to “least of concern”.
“These Red List assessments are proof that sustainable fisheries approaches work, with huge long-term benefits for livelihoods and biodiversity. We must continue to apply sustainable fishing quotas and fight against illegal fishing ” noted Bruce B. Collette, Chair of the IUCN SSC Tuna and Billfish Specialist Group.
“Tuna species migrate thousands of kilometers, so it is also essential to coordinate their management on a global scale,” said Collette.
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