The world’s sharks and rays have seen declines in their populations since 2014 and more of them are now threatened with extinction, said a new red list released by the IUCN.
The international organisation said that about 37 per cent of the world’s sharks and rays are considered in danger as of 2021, up from 33 per cent seven years ago.
Overfishing, loss of habitat and climate change have caused the upward trend, the report said. The IUCN pointed out that oceanic shark populations dropped by 71 per cent since 1970. However, it revealed that four commercially fished tuna species are on the path to recovery, thanks to the enforcement of regional fishing quotes over the last decade.
Though there are good signs of improvement, the report mentioned that several regional tuna stocks remain severely depleted. As an example, they said that the larger, eastern population of Atlantic bluefin tuna, which originates in the Mediterranean, has increased by at least 22 per cent over the last four decades. The species smaller native western Atlantic population, which spawns in the Gulf of Mexico, has declined by more than half in the same period. The yellowfin tuna meanwhile continues to be overfished in the Indian Ocean, the IUCN added.
IUCN Director General Dr Bruno Oberle observed; “today’s IUCN Red List update is a powerful sign that, despite increasing pressures on our oceans, species can recover if states truly commit to sustainable practices.”
The Director General opined that the States and others must work towards binding targets based on sound scientific data. These Red List assessments demonstrate just how closely the lives and livelihoods are intertwined with biodiversity, Oberle added.
Meanwhile, Chair of the IUCN SSC Tuna and Billfish Specialist Group Bruce B. Collette said that these Red List assessments are proof that sustainable fisheries approaches work with enormous long-term benefits for livelihoods and biodiversity. “We need to continue enforcing sustainable Fishing quotes and cracking down on illegal fishing,” Collette added.
The Pacific bluefin tuna (Thunnus orientalis) moved from Vulnerable to Near Threatened in this update due to the availability of newer stock assessment data and models. This species remains severely depleted at less than 5% of its original biomass. Other tuna species reassessed for this Red List update include the bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus) which remains Vulnerable, and the skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis) which remains Least Concern.