3 June 2015
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 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."