Migratory fish are on the brink of extinction, 44% of all migratory species are in decline

Migratory fish are on the brink of extinction, 44% of all migratory species are in decline

At least 2 in 5 species of migratory animals prioritized for conservation are declining, and almost all important migratory fish are threatened with extinction, a new report says.

the Status of migratory species in the world This report is the first review of the nearly 1,200 species that countries participating in the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) consider “in need of protection.”

But not all countries are signatories to the CCS, including the United States and Canada, and as a result, about 400 endangered migratory species are not part of the analysis.

Black and white photo of a dead thresher shark on the beach
A dead thresher shark on the beach in Puerto Lopez, Ecuador. Overfishing and fishing are one of two major factors pushing fish species to the brink of extinction. Image source: Jean Suchor/Latincontent/Getty Images

Mostly, extinction threats are driven by overexploitation, as poaching and the hunting and capture of non-target animals destroy many species. Habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation (where human activity separates habitat areas) also cause significant declines.

The plight of migratory species is mixed.

In general, species abundance—that is, the number of individuals present in each species—is either stable or increasing.

More than two-thirds of CMS species are considered relatively safe from extinction.

But these data hide more troubling trends. At the species level, about 44% of monitored species are experiencing population decline.

Professor Richard Fuller is an expert on migratory shorebirds at the University of Queensland. He warns of the “good news” that the overall abundance of migratory animals is heading into positive territory.

“It’s happening with many migratory species as more and more common migratory species become more common,” Fuller says. Universe.

“Some migratory species do very well, especially those that benefit from human activities.

“Whether this is normal or not is really up for debate.

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“At the other end of the scale, you have rare migratory species that are falling off the back end. And that’s where I think the real alarm bells are.”

Conservation of migratory species is a test of global cooperation

CMS-listed fish are of particular concern to the Convention, which meets today in Uzbekistan for its 14th sessiony The Conference of the Parties, which includes representatives from Australia, New Zealand, all countries of Europe, most countries of Africa, South America, the Middle East and South Asia.

Half of migratory fish are critically endangered, another quarter are threatened with extinction, and about a fifth are vulnerable to extinction.

In general, almost all migratory fish species are threatened with extinction.

About a third of migratory reptiles are critically endangered.

However, the increase in abundance overall indicates what Fuller calls clear signs of “ecological imbalance.”

“Species go crazy and abundant because human nature (influences) love them, and at the other end of the scale, those rare species (disappear) from the face of the planet altogether.”

Godwits flying near Botany in Sydney Harbour.
Band-tailed godwits in flight. This holds the record for the longest non-stop flight for a migratory bird species. Credit: Deb Andrews.

Fuller argues that solutions exist if countries better coordinate their efforts to conserve species, which is the goal of CMS. In particular, he describes a difficult situation, where solving one threat along a migration route is good, but failing to address problems elsewhere in a species’ movement path will fail to solve problems overall.

“Migratory species are really testing global commitments to protecting ecosystems and populations,” says Rochelle Constantine, a marine biologist at the University of Auckland.

“Despite decades of research, international agreements and local and global initiatives, only 20% of migratory species monitored by the Species Management System are threatened with extinction.

“We face enormous challenges in implementing meaningful change for migratory species. Their decline has major environmental impacts and reflects rapid environmental change. These animals often indicate rapid environmental change.”

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