Most threatened freshwater fish species. IUCN /

By Richard Gray, Science Correspondent
30 July 2011

Freshwater fish are the most endangered group of animals on the planet, with more than a third threatened with extinction, according to a report being compiled by British scientists.

Among those at the greatest risk of dying out are several species from UK rivers and lakes including the European eel, Shetland charr and many little known fish that have become isolated in remote waterways in Wales and Scotland.

Others critically endangered include types of sturgeon, which provide some of the world's most expensive caviar, and giant river dwellers such as the Mekong giant catfish and freshwater stingray, which can grow as long as 15 feet.

The scientists have blamed human activities such as overfishing, pollution and construction for pushing so many species to the brink of extinction.

They also warn that the loss of the fish could have serious implications for humans. In Africa alone more than 7.5 million people rely on freshwater fish for food and income.

The precarious status of the species has been revealed in interim results from the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List assessment of freshwater fish.

Dr William Darwall, manager of the freshwater unit at the IUCN in Cambridge, said: "There are still some big gaps in our knowledge, but of the 5,685 species that have been assessed, 36 per cent of them are threatened.
"Compared to mammals, where 21 per cent are threatened, and birds, where 12 per cent are threatened, it is clear that fresh water ecosystems are among the most threatened in the world.
"Sadly, it is also not going to get any better as human need for fresh water, power and food continues to grown and we exploit freshwater environments for these resources." […]

Third of freshwater fish threatened with extinction


  1. byron smith said...

    Sloppy Telegraph writer takes scientist's quote - "it is clear that fresh water ecosystems are among the most threatened in the world" - and turns it into falsehood - "Freshwater fish are the most endangered group of animals on the planet". If newspapers could afford to pay a journalist with some kind of background in the sciences, someone might have noticed that amphibians are in even more trouble, appearing in the first dot-point of the executive summary of the most recent and authoritative major report on global biodiversity. It's not like its hiding away in the shadows.

    Can't say I'm surprised.  


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