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Support the IUCN Red List Bumblebee Campaign

30 June 2015
Bumblebee. Photo: Pieter van Marion (CC BY-NC 2.0)

For the next thirty days, you will hear a slight buzzing from The IUCN Red List. We have just launched The IUCN Red List bumblebee campaign!

Bumblebees are incredibly important animals. They are vital pollinators of both wild and crop plants. Many economically important plants, such as tomatoes and blueberries, rely on bumblebees to produce fruit. Worryingly, like other bees, many bumblebee species are in decline, largely due to agricultural intensification - leading to habitat loss and increased pesticide use - as well as climate change and introduced pathogens.

More than 200 of the world’s 250 bumblebee species still need to be assessed for The IUCN Red List in order to help prevent their decline.

Help us assess ALL bumblebees and move The IUCN Red List closer to its goal of assessing 160,000 species by 2020. We know this goal is ambitious – help us create a louder buzz. Please support our campaign and spread the word!

Sign up here to receive campaign updates.

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Conservation successes overshadowed by more species declines – IUCN Red List update

23 June 2015
Iberian Lynx (Lynx pardinus)
Photo: A. Rivas

Successful conservation action has boosted the populations of the Iberian Lynx and the Guadalupe Fur Seal, while the African Golden Cat, the New Zealand Sea Lion and the Lion are facing increasing threats to their survival, according to the latest update of The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™. Ninety-nine percent of tropical Asian slipper orchids – some of the most highly prized ornamental plants – are threatened with extinction.

Today’s update also shows that over-collection and habitat destruction are placing enormous pressure on many medicinal plants.

The IUCN Red List now includes 77,340 assessed species, of which 22,784 are threatened with extinction. The loss and degradation of habitat are identified as the main threat to 85% of all species described on the IUCN Red List, with illegal trade and invasive species also being key drivers of population decline.

“This IUCN Red List update confirms that effective conservation can yield outstanding results,” says Inger Andersen, IUCN Director General. “Saving the Iberian Lynx from the brink of extinction while securing the livelihoods of local communities is a perfect example. “But this update is also a wake-up call, reminding us that our natural world is becoming increasingly vulnerable. The international community must urgently step up conservation efforts if we want to secure this fascinating diversity of life that sustains, inspires and amazes us every day.”

Following six decades of decline, the population of the Iberian Lynx (Lynx pardinus) increased from 52 mature individuals in 2002 to 156 in 2012. The species has now moved from the Critically Endangered to Endangered category on the IUCN Red List. This was achieved thanks to intensive conservation action including the restoration of rabbit populations – the main prey species of the Iberian Lynx - monitoring for illegal trapping, conservation breeding, reintroduction programmes and compensation schemes for landowners, which made their properties compatible with the habitat requirements of the Iberian Lynx. The species can be found in two regions of southwestern Spain as well as southeastern Portugal, which hosts its small reintroduced population.

“This is fantastic news for the Iberian Lynx, and excellent proof that conservation action really works,” says Urs Breitenmoser, Co-Chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s Cat Specialist Group. “However, the job is far from finished and we must continue our conservation efforts to secure future range expansion and population growth of the species.”

Guadalupe Fur Seal (Arctocephalus townsendi) Photo: Casandra GalvezThe Guadalupe Fur Seal (Arctocephalus townsendi), which was twice thought to be Extinct due to hunting in the late 1800s and 1920s, has now improved in status. Is has moved from the Near Threatened category to Least Concern thanks to habitat protection and the enforcement of laws such as the USA Marine Mammal Protection Act. The species’ population rebounded from some 200 to 500 individuals in the 1950s to around 20,000 in 2010. Prior to exploitation for its dense, luxurious underfur, the Guadalupe African Golden Cat (Caracal aurata) Photo: Laila Bahaa-el-dinFur Seal was likely the most abundant seal species on the islands of southern California, with a population estimate of 200,000.

According to the update, several mammals are facing increased threats from hunting and habitat loss. The extremely reclusive African Golden Cat (Caracal aurata) has moved from Near Threatened to Vulnerable due to population decline. The New Zealand Sea Lion (Phocarctos hookeri) – one of the rarest sea lions in the world – has Lion (Panthera leo) Photo: Craig Hilton-Taylormoved from Vulnerable to Endangered, mainly due to disease, habitat modification caused by fishing, and accidental death as a result of bycatch. The species has never recovered from the severe population depletion which occurred due to commercial hunting early in the 19th century.

Despite successful conservation action in southern Africa, the Lion (Panthera leo) remains listed as Vulnerable at a global level due to declines in other regions. The West African subpopulation has been listed as Critically Endangered due to habitat conversion, a decline in prey caused by unsustainable hunting, and human-lion conflict. Rapid declines have also been recorded in East Africa – historically a stronghold for lions – mainly due to human-lion conflict and prey decline. Trade in bones and Purple Paphiopedilum (Paphiopedilum purpuratum) Photo: VanLap Hoangother body parts for traditional medicine, both within the region and in Asia, has been identified as a new, emerging threat to the species.

Assessments of all 84 species of tropical Asian slipper orchid – some of the most beautiful ornamental plants – show that 99% of the species are threatened with extinction, primarily due to over-collection for horticultural purposes and habitat loss. All international commercial trade in this species is prohibited under the Convention on Karstama balicum Photo: Tony WhittenInternational Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). However, highly damaging illegal trade continues due to a lack of adequate enforcement at national levels. Although these species are mostly represented in cultivated collections, their loss in the wild will have major impacts on their genetic diversity and the species’ continued existence. For example, the Purple Paphiopedilum (Paphiopedilum purpuratum), a rare species found in Viet Nam, China and Hong Kong, is listed as Critically Endangered. Threats include habitat fragmentation and Peppermint Goby (Coryphopterus lipernes) Photo: Laszlo Ilyesdegradation, and ruthless collection in the wild for the regional and international horticultural trade.

Forty-four Indian species of medicinal plant have been added to the IUCN Red List in this update. All are threatened with extinction, mainly due to over-collection and habitat loss. Aconitum chasmanthum, a highly toxic plant endemic to the Himalayan region of India and Pakistan, is listed as Critically Endangered due to unsustainable collection of tubers and roots, as well as habitat loss from avalanches and the construction of high-altitude roads. The roots and tubers, which contain alkaloids, are used in Ayurvedic and homeopathic medicine and are collected in huge quantities.

Two species of crab, Karstama balicum and Karstama emdi, have been listed as Critically Endangered as their only known habitat – Bali’s Giri Putri Cave – is threatened by increasing tourism and religious ceremonies carried out in the cave. Studies of the crabs are being carried out in order to identify appropriate conservation strategies.

Of the 143 species of goby assessed in the Caribbean region, 19 are threatened with extinction mainly due to a 59% decline in coral reef habitat between 1979 and 2011, and the invasive Lionfish (Pterois volitans). Gobies are one of the largest families of marine fish. They comprise more than 2,000 species, including some of the smallest vertebrates in the world, such as the Critically Endangered Dwarf Pygmy Goby (Pandaka pygmaea), which is only 1 to 1.5 cm long. The Peppermint Goby (Coryphopterus lipernes), which grows to a maximum of 3 cm, has been listed as Vulnerable. Previously listed as Least Concern, the Glass Goby (Coryphopterus hyalinus) is now Vulnerable due to increased threat from the invasive Lionfish.

Whilst no new species have been listed as Extinct, 14 species have been assessed as Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct). These include the evergreen Magnolia emarginata, a tree endemic to Haiti, which has suffered from an estimated 97% reduction of its forest habitat during the last century. Ten species of orchid endemic to Madagascar, such as the white flowering Angraecum mahavavense, have also entered The IUCN Red List as Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct) primarily due to loss of forest habitat and illegal collection.

"It is encouraging to see several species improve in status due to conservation action,” says Jane Smart, Director, IUCN’s Global Species Programme. “However, this update shows that we are still seeing devastating losses in species populations. The IUCN Red List is the voice of biodiversity telling us where we need to focus our attention most urgently – this voice is clearly telling us that we must act now to develop stronger policy and on-the-ground conservation programmes to protect species and halt their declines.”

For more information or interviews please contact:

Ewa Magiera, IUCN Media Relations
+41 76 505 33 78

Lynne Labanne, IUCN Global Species Programme, IUCN
+41 79 527 7221

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West and Central Africa’s wildlife in trouble, shows new IUCN report

12 June 2015
Dama Gazelle Nanger dama (CR) in the Manga, Chad
Photo: John Newby / Sahara Conservation Fund

A new IUCN report released today evaluates the state of West and Central Africa’s terrestrial and freshwater fauna and highlights the inadequacy of responses to rapid wildlife decline in the region. Improved legislation and much more effective protection is urgently required to meet international targets for protected areas and halting biodiversity loss.

The report attributes the erosion of West and Central Africa’s biodiversity to habitat loss and degradation due to rapid urbanization, agricultural expansion and unsustainable resource exploitation, as well as hunting for bushmeat and the illegal wildlife trade.

The 22 countries of West and Central Africa are home to a rich tapestry of species, habitats and ecosystems. Many areas, such as the Upper Guinea forests, the Afromontane forests of the Nigeria and Cameroon border and the Albertine Rift, and the Congo Basin, have long been considered conservation priorities. However, the rapidly growing human population is projected to rise to over 600 million in little over a decade, placing tremendous pressure on the region’s natural heritage.

10% of the 2,471 amphibian, bird and mammal species native to West and Central Africa are threatened with extinction, as well as 17% of the more than 1,600 freshwater fish species. In the last decade, both African rhinos, the Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) and White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum), have been extirpated from the region, while the Scimitar-horned Oryx (Oryx dammah) became Extinct in the Wild in the 1980s. Gambia, Mauritania, Senegal, and Mali have lost five or more of their historically native large mammal species. A few species, including Dama Gazelle (Nanger dama) and Dryad Monkey (Cercopithecus dryas) have global populations now down to only a few 100 individuals in the wild, while regional subpopulations of African Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus), Lion (Panthera leo), Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus), Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis), and Giant Eland (Tragelaphus derbianus) are all Critically Endangered.

Ecoguard camp at Ivindo National Park, Gabon. Photo: Nathalie van VlietThe decline of wildlife in West Africa in particular, can be attributed to extensive deforestation and forest fragmentation, primarily via wide-scale clear-cutting to replace forests with agricultural land and commercial plantations. Central African forests remain relatively intact, but roughly one-third of remaining forests are in logging concessions, suggesting that pressures are increasing. Logging truck in Lastourville, Gabon. Photo: Nathalie van VlietThe region as a whole is also subject to extensive and increasing exploitation of its mineral and oil reserves, involving both large commercial, open-cast operations and artisanal activities. Mining operations have already led to the downsizing and degazettement of protected areas, including one World Heritage site. Even where forests remain intact, bushmeat hunting, especially for ungulates, is prevalent and off-take rates are often not sustainable. The black market demand for ivory and, more recently, pangolin scales, is further driving wildlife declines.

The authors point out the inadequacy of national legislation in the region, especially in meeting global targets for biodiversity and protected areas. Furthermore, many sites important for biodiversity remain unprotected in the region, including more than one-third of sites known to hold the last remaining population of a highly threatened species. Nonetheless, despite considerable pressures, tremendous complexity, and regional instability, there is an excellent track record of civil society organizations supporting, and assuming a mandate for, wildlife conservation interests in the region.

The information in the report can be used to guide urgently needed improvements to legislation and enforcement in order to fulfil obligations to international agreements and to allow scarce resources to be targeted with much greater efficiency. The findings will inform further targeted conservation action and expand IUCN’s existing work through its SOS – Save Our Species initiative. To date, this activity has helped improve management in eight protected areas in the region, such as Bouba-Njiidda National Park in Cameroon and Conkouati-Douli National Park in Congo, and at least 25 threatened vertebrates, among them the Slender-snouted Crocodile (Mecistops cataphractus), Sawfish (Pristis spp.), and the Pygmy Hippopotamus (Choeropsis liberiensis). Similarly these findings will guide national and regional protected area capacity development and policy support activities through the EU-funded BIOPAMA (Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management) programme. It will also add important context to the forthcoming EU strategic approach for African wildlife conservation.

This Situation Analysis was undertaken to inform responses to several resolutions made at the 5th World Conservation Congress in 2012 about the plight of large vertebrates in West and Central Africa. The study was produced with support from the 10th European Development Fund through the BIOPAMA programme, jointly implemented by IUCN, the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).

The full report, An IUCN situation analysis of terrestrial and freshwater fauna in West and Central Africa, is available for download here.

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IUCN launches second call for Tiger conservation projects

10 June 2015
Tiger (Panthera tigris)
Photo: Sascha Kohlmann CC BY-SA 2.0

After a successful first call for proposals in October last year, IUCN's Integrated Tiger Habitat Conservation Programme (ITHCP) is now calling for a second round of proposals from eligible applicants.

The Endangered Tiger (Panthera tigris) now persists in only 6% of its former range. Three of the nine subspecies (Bali, Caspian and Javan) became extinct in the last century with a fourth subspecies (South China) not seen in the wild since the 1970s. In a concerted effort to conserve remaining tiger populations, the 13 tiger range countries came together at the International Tiger Forum in St Petersburg, Russia in 2010 and pledged to double tiger populations by 2022.

Although there have been some recent success stories in tiger conservation, with populations appearing to have increased in India, tiger populations continue to face serious threats in the form of poaching, habitat loss and fragmentation, and loss of prey. Coupled with this is a growing human population living in and around critical tiger habitats subsisting on forest resources. This not only places increasing pressure on tiger habitats but increases human-tiger conflicts. As human populations continue to grow alongside growing tiger populations, increasing pressures and conflicts will need to be managed sustainably in the long-term. To achieve this, the Integrated Tiger Habitat Conservation Programme (ITHCP) was initiated by IUCN in 2014 thanks to funding from KfW and the German Government. The programme funds projects on the conservation of wild tiger populations and their habitats, and on the sustainable development of livelihoods of human communities living in and around key tiger habitats.

The first call for concepts was launched in October last year, and resulted in a number of concepts being received from across the nine countries eligible for funding under this programme: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Nepal and Viet Nam. The concepts were submitted by some very strong partnerships between NGOs, Government Departments and local communities, and were innovative and of high quality. Competition was fierce and unfortunately not all proposals could be funded. The project proposals shortlisted under the first call are currently being finalized by applicants. Today, on 10 June 2015, IUCN is launching a second call for proposals. Potential applicants are invited to visit this page.

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Critically Endangered spider saved from planning development

10 June 2015
The Horrid Ground-weaver (Nothophantes horridus)
Photo: Duncan Allen

IUCN is delighted that the petition launched by Buglife-The Invertebrate Conservation Trust to save the Critically Endangered Horrid Ground-weaver from planning development was a huge success! Buglife announced yesterday that this incredibly rare spider has been given a fighting chance of survival, after an appeal to build new houses in an old quarry was dismissed.

The Horrid Ground-weaver (Nothophantes horridus) is a tiny money spider which has only been found in three sites in Plymouth, United Kingdom. One of these sites has already been built on and lost and proposals to build a new development of 57 new houses on the second site, Radford Quarry – also a County Wildlife Site, would have destroyed the spider’s habitat and pushed it closer to extinction. In light of the species’ dire situation, it was assessed as Critically Endangered on The IUCN Red List last week.

Radford Quarry, Plymouth Photo: Rupert GoddardOriginally, the development was refused by Plymouth City Council but the applicant appealed the decision and a planning inquiry took place in January and March. Buglife objected to the development last year, and over 9,700 people signed their petition to save the spider.

Yesterday, the Planning Inspector announced that the case is dismissed, stating that concern over the rare wildlife, Illustration of the Horrid Ground-weaver (Nothophantes horridus) Photo: Fergus McBurneynotably the Horrid Ground-weaver, was the primary reason for rejection. This amazing result will help secure the survival of this amazing creature.

Andrew Whitehouse, Buglife’s South West Manager, said: “What a fantastic result for wildlife. Buglife believe that to knowingly cause the extinction of a species, no matter how small, is morally wrong. We welcome the decision of the Planning Inspector to dismiss the planning appeal and protect this site for nature and for the local community. Thanks to all of our supporters and everyone who signed our petition to save the Horrid Ground-weaver spider.”




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Superabundant bird decline mirrors Passenger Pigeon

08 June 2015
Yellow-breasted Bunting. Photo: 57Andrew (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

One of Eurasia’s most abundant bird species has declined by 90% and retracted its range by 5000 km since 1980 a new study shows.

Yellow-breasted Bunting Emberiza aureola was once distributed over vast areas of Europe and Asia, its range stretching from Finland to Japan. New research published in the journal Conservation Biology suggest that unsustainable rates of hunting, principally in China, have contributed to not only a catastrophic loss of numbers but also in the areas in which it can now be found.

“The magnitude and speed of the decline is unprecedented among birds distributed over such a large area, with the exception of the Passenger Pigeon, which went extinct in 1914 due to industrial-scale hunting”, said Dr Johannes Kamp from the University of Münster, the lead author of the paper. “High levels of hunting also appear to be responsible for the declines we are seeing in Yellow-breasted Bunting.”

The species has all but disappeared from Eastern Europe, European Russia, large parts of Western and Central Siberia, and Japan.

During migration and on the wintering grounds, Yellow-breasted Buntings gather in huge flocks at night-time roosts making them easy to trap in large numbers. Birds have traditionally been trapped for food at these roosts with nets.

Following initial declines, hunting of the species – known in Chinese as ‘the rice bird’ – was banned in China in 1997. However, millions of Yellow-breasted Buntings and other songbirds were still being killed for food and sold on the black market as late as 2013. Consumption of these birds has increased as a result of economic growth and prosperity in East Asia, with one estimate from 2001 of one million buntings being consumed in China’s Guangdong province alone.

“To reverse these declines we need to better educate people of the consequences of eating wildlife. We also need a better and more efficient reporting system for law enforcement”, said Simba Chan, Senior Conservation Officer at BirdLife International.

“The story of the Yellow-breasted Bunting illustrates how little we know about trends in populations in many species in the region. There is growing evidence that these declines are part of wider problems for common Asian birds. We need to better understand these in order to address them more effectively.“

Coordinated monitoring activities are urgently needed in East Asia. However, a new agreement between China, Japan, Republic of Korea and Russia is a first step in developing a coordinated monitoring of migratory birds across the region. The situation is now so serious that the Convention on Migratory Species has agreed to develop an international action plan for the recovery of the Yellow-breasted Bunting throughout its range by 2017.

“In the last decade birdwatching has become increasingly popular in China. Birdwatchers will play an important role in future data gathering”, said Simba Chan. “Now is the time to address these worrying declines across the region by mobilising people for conservation action.”

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News story written by Martin Fowlie, a Communications Officer at BirdLife International.




Despite conservation successes, 13% of European birds still at risk of extinction

03 June 2015
Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica)
Photo: Michael Finn

The new European Red List of Birds, published today and produced by the European Commission and BirdLife International, reveals that 13% of European bird species are threatened with extinction, largely due to habitat loss and degradation and climate change.

“The European Red List tells us that we have done a decent job at rescuing the rarest species by protecting their last strongholds and taking actions such as eradication of invasive species and insulation of killer powerlines,” said Christina Ieronymidou, European Species Programme Officer at BirdLife. “But we are now faced with much bigger challenges, from the ecological degradation of our farmland to climate change. These problems require a much broader and deeper response.”

Out of 533 species assessed at the pan-European level, 67 (13%) are threatened with regional extinction, and 6 species have gone extinct (since 1800). A total of 29 species have been uplisted since 2004 (formerly considered to be of Least Concern but are now threatened or Near Threatened in Europe).

For example, two once very common seabirds are now classified as Endangered: the Atlantic Puffin and the Northern Fulmar are iconic birds of the North Atlantic but their populations have recently started plummeting under the combined blows of overfishing and climate change.

The now Critically Endangered Sociable Lapwing nests on the central Asian steppes and winters in Africa, Arabia and India. It used to breed in Ukraine and southern European Russia, but has lost most of its breeding grounds to agricultural expansion, and is now down to just a few pairs in European Russia. In its last strongholds in Kazakhstan, it is threatened by the loss of grazing animals needed for habitat maintenance and hunting.

"These reports contain some worrying statistics – but they also show the value of well-targeted actions to protect the biodiversity we depend on both economically and socially through the services they provide,” said Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Policy. “Our task is to find ways of building on those successes, and spreading them to other areas. They are also a valuable input to our on-going Fitness Check – Europe needs nature legislation that is fit for purpose.”

A total of 45 species have been downlisted to a lower extinction risk thanks to intensive conservation work.

Sociable Lapwing (Vanellus Gregarius). Photo: Cks3976 (Wikimedia Commons)The Azores Bullfinch was driven to the edge of extinction on Sao Miguel, the only island where it occurs, mainly by the impact of invasive alien vegetation that had overran its native forests. Habitat restoration has brought the species back, allowing it to be downlisted from Critically Endangered to Endangered, with the population bouncing back from 40 to around 400 pairs.

The Lesser Kestrel declined in the second half of the 20th century because of habitat loss and degradation, but the Azores Bullfinch (Pyrrhula murina). Photo: Mark Putney (Flickr, CC BY-SA)declines slowed and eventually halted largely as a consequence of actions implemented following the development of a Species Action Plan and increased resources to implement this, including full legal protection in all relevant EU countries, management of breeding colonies, provision of artificial nest boxes, maintenance of foraging habitats through agri-environment schemes, and awareness-raising activities. The species was downlisted Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni). Photo: BernardDupont (Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)from Vulnerable to Least Concern.

“The Red List data provides a solid baseline for monitoring future trends in European biodiversity and for guiding conservation actions,” said Craig Hilton-Taylor, Head of the Red List Unit, IUCN Global Species Programme. "The European Red List of Birds clearly shows the need for constant vigilance and increased action if we are to prevent the loss of biodiversity in Europe.”

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First complete assessment of European marine fishes highlights major threat from overfishing

03 June 2015
Atlantic Bluefin Tuna (Thunnus thynnus)
Photo: OCEANA Keith Ellenbogen

A total of 7.5% of all European marine fish species are threatened with extinction in European waters, according to the European Red List of Threatened Species published today by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) and the European Commission. While some species are recovering, marine management has been less successful for many other commercial fishes: 40.4% of European sharks, rays and chimaeras face an elevated risk of extinction.

The Red List report, financed by the European Commission, is the first ever complete assessment of marine fishes native to Europe, assessing all of the 1,220 species present in the Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea, Baltic Sea, North Sea, and the Northeast Atlantic Ocean, including many highly exploited species that support large commercial, recreational, and artisanal fisheries. The highest number of threatened species can be found in the Mediterranean Sea, the western coast of the Iberian Peninsula and the Macaronesian islands.

Sharks, rays and chimaeras (Chondrichthyes) were found to be the most threatened marine fishes in Europe, with 40.4% of them threatened with extinction, and 39.7% experiencing declining populations. For example, the Critically Endangered Angelshark (Squatina squatina), which was formerly found throughout European waters, is now mostly restricted to the Canary Islands due to the impacts of fisheries bycatch.

"These findings are crucial for informing policy on nature and maritime affairs, and effectively implementing EU legislation, such as the Habitats Directive, the Marine Strategy Framework and the Maritime Spatial Planning Directives, to improve the status of threatened marine species,” said Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Policy. “They also demonstrate the need to ensure full compliance with the requirements under the Common Fisheries Policy by harvesting species at levels which ensure Maximum Sustainable Yield for all EU fisheries."

Angelshark (Squatina squatina). Photo: Tony Gilbert“Full implementation of existing marine legislation is vital to achieving the EU’s 2020 biodiversity targets,” said Luc Bas, Director of the IUCN European Regional Office. “A healthy marine environment is not only essential for Europe’s economic prosperity by securing the long-term viability of our fisheries sector, but our oceans also provide food security for millions of people and numerous ecosystem services.”

The report shows that existing marine management measures have been successful for certain species, such as the Atlantic Cod (Gadus morhua) or Atlantic Bluefin Tuna (Thunnus thynnus), whose stocks have improved. However, for some other species, such as the Atlantic Halibut (Hippoglossus hippoglossus, Vulnerable), Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar, Vulnerable) and Turbot (Scophthalmus maximus, Vulnerable), management has been less effective.

“While we have seen some progress, it is alarming that many commercially and ecologically important species continue to be at risk in Europe,” added Simon Stuart, Chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC). “We need to take urgent action to reduce target and incidental catches of threatened species, and to set and enforce fishing quotas based on scientific understanding of population declines and multi-annual management plans for all commercial species of marine fishes.”

The report identifies overfishing as the main threat to marine fishes in Europe, both in targeted fisheries and as by-catch. Other major threats include coastal development, energy production and mining, as well as pollution and climate change.

Turbot, for example, a common and widespread species in shallow European waters, has experienced a decline of 31% over the last 27-29 years as a result of over-exploitation, and is now classified as Vulnerable.

The Atlantic Salmon (Vulnerable) has also been affected by overfishing both at sea and in rivers, as well as water pollution and sedimentation. Overfishing at sea, in particular with drift nets, is a major threat to the species, as is by-catch in the mackerel fishery. In addition, in recent years, salmon prey species have been depleted by commercial fisheries, and extensive salmon farming has affected wild populations through the introduction of diseases and parasites.

Although Europe has the most significant scientific capacity in the world, for a fifth of all assessed marine fish species (20.6%), there was insufficient scientific information available to be able to evaluate their extinction risk, according to the report. Knowledge is also lacking on the population trends: the assessments show that 8.4% of the populations are declining, 21.5% are considered stable and 1.7% are increasing, but the trends for as many as 68.4% of the species remain unknown.

“We still have substantial knowledge gaps on population trends, taxonomy and distribution, especially for deep-water and rare species. It is therefore essential to improve monitoring and data collection for marine fishes in Europe,” said Kent Carpenter, Manager of the IUCN Global Marine Biodiversity Unit. “As we gain more knowledge, some of the data deficient species might also prove to be threatened.“

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