Big fish in big trouble in Europe

The Angelshark (Squatina squatina) typifies the fish most at risk of extinction: This kind of grows to a large size along with is usually cartilaginous, so This kind of has characteristics which make This kind of less resilient. Once common throughout Europe, This kind of is usually currently only found within the Canary Islands. Credit: Tony Gilbert

An international team of scientists led by the University of Aberdeen have discovered in which large fish, which include many of the sharks, rays along with skates of Europe, are the most at threat through extinction.


Marine fish are a diverse group of animals in which play important roles in marine ecosystems, although are also a major food source for marine along with terrestrial mammals, most notably humans.

A brand-new study, published today (Friday, May 26) in Nature Ecology & Evolution, has shown in which the bigger the fish, the more likely This kind of is usually to be threatened with extinction. This kind of is usually because they are more susceptible to threats such as overfishing due to growing slower, taking longer to mature along with having fewer offspring, as well as being more sought after for food consumption or sport.

The team, which was made up of 44 researchers through all around the entire world, received funding through the European Commission (DG Environment) along with the Marine Alliance for Science along with Technology for Scotland (MASTS) to carry out the study.

The study was part of a major effort to assess the extinction risk of fish carried out by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to produce the European Red List of Marine Fishes along with saw the team assess over 1000 different species along with the status of commercial fish ‘stocks’. Further to This kind of, the team aimed to find out if their data agreed with advice received through additional government fisheries agencies.

Fishery agencies assess whether fish stocks are overfished or not, along with provide advice on how much fish can then be taken through a stock to ensure in which the stock is usually sustainable. This kind of is usually when fishing quotas or catch limits are implemented.

The scientists studied the status of commercial fish stocks all around Europe along with found a remarkable geographic contrast.

Dr Paul Fernandes through the University of Aberdeen’s School of Biological Sciences, explains: “within the northeast Atlantic in 2014, almost twice as many stocks were sustainably fished as overfished, 8 stocks were recovering (the fishing rate is usually not high, although their populations are tiny); along with 19 were declining (their populations are healthy, although the fishing rate is usually currently too high).

“However, within the Mediterranean Sea, almost all stocks examined in our study were overfished (36 of 39) along with not one was sustainable. This kind of comes down to how the areas are managed along with the unique nature of the fishing communities within the two areas.

“within the northeast Atlantic, there is usually a complex – along with expensive – fishery monitoring along with enforcement system, which sets quotas along with additional regulations to keep fish stocks healthy.

“within the Mediterranean, however, such monitoring along with enforcement could be even more expensive, because there are many more fishermen scattered in many tiny fishing ports. Hence there are largely no quotas within the Mediterranean, only some protected areas along with some limits on the amount of fishing time; the area also has more pressing economic along with food security concerns.

“Through This kind of study, we have highlighted two major issues for Europe’s fish: the threats to large fish, along with the overfishing problem within the Mediterranean. Europe is usually proceeding having a Blue Growth agenda, aiming to expand its use of marine space in aquaculture, mining, renewable energy, tourism along with biotechnology, although as This kind of does so This kind of needs to take care of the large fish, the so-called ‘megafauna’, along with improve fishery management within the Mediterranean.”


Explore further:
The worrying state of Mediterranean fish stocks

More information:
Paul G. Fernandes et al. Coherent assessments of Europe’s marine fishes show regional divergence along with megafauna loss, Nature Ecology & Evolution (2017). DOI: 10.1038/s41559-017-0170

Journal reference:
Nature Ecology & Evolution

Provided by:
University of Aberdeen

Big fish in big trouble in Europe

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