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IUCN Warns of Marine Fish Extinctions in Mediterranean Sea

19 April 2011: In a study released by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species program, titled “Overview of the conservation status of the marine fishes of the Mediterranean Sea,” IUCN has warned that more than 40 species of marine fish currently found in the Mediterranean could disappear in the next few years.

According to the study, which provides the first comprehensive regional IUCN Red List assessment of the native marine fish species for an entire sea, almost half of the species of sharks and rays (cartilaginous fish) and at least 12 species of bony fish are threatened with extinction, due to overfishing, marine habitat degradation and pollution. The study indicates that commercial species like Bluefin Tuna (Thunnus thynnus), Dusky Grouper (Epinephelus marginatus), Sea Bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) or Hake (Merluccius merluccius) are considered threatened (Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable) or Near Threatened with extinction at the regional level, mainly due to overfishing.

According to Kent Carpenter, IUCN Global Marine Species Assessment Coordinator, the Mediterranean and Eastern Atlantic population of the Atlantic Bluefin Tuna had an estimated 50% decline in reproduction potential over the past 40 years due to intensive overfishing. He also noted that lack of compliance with current quotas, combined with widespread underreporting of the catch, may have undermined conservation efforts for Atlantic Bluefin Tuna.

The study highlights the need to: reinforce fishing regulations, create new marine reserves, reduce pollution, and review fishing quotas, in particular for threatened species. [Publication: Overview of the Conservation Status of the Marine Fishes of the Mediterranean Sea]