Report: 40% of Sharks and Rays in Europe in Danger of Extinction

posted: 06/03/15
by: Danny Clemens
Great white shark in sunbeam
Carl Roessler/Digital Vision

More than 40% of sharks, rays and chimaeras found in European waters are in danger of extinction, according to an alarming new report from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Released on Wednesday, the IUCN's European Red List of Marine Fishes specifically calls out "high levels of unregulated overfishing in the Mediterranean Sea" as a primary driver of species decline. The organization also identified bycatch (the inadvertent capture of sharks while fishing for other animals) as a contributor to population decline.

"It is alarming that many commercially and ecologically important species continue to be at risk in Europe," Simon Stuart, the chair of the IUCN's species survival commission, told The Guardian. "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."

Not all of the news from the report is bad. IUCN notes that the European Union finally closed a loophole in legislation banning shark finning. Without exception, the legislation now requires that all sharks are landed with their fins naturally attached. Overall, however, the report declares that much of Europe has engaged in "little effective fisheries management".

Sharks and rays are not the only marine wildlife in danger -- the report also names 59% of freshwater mollusks, 40% of freshwater fish, 23% of amphibians, 20% of reptiles, 17% of mammals, 16% of birds, 9% of butterflies and bees, 8% of aquatic platens and 2% of medicinal plants as being in danger of extinction.

Click here to read the IUCN's full report

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