September 09, 2008
Almost 40% Of North American Fish Species Threatened

The world is overpopulated by humans. Isn't 6 billion enough? Human encroachments are cutting back on the numbers of fish.

Nearly 40 percent of fish species in North American streams, rivers and lakes are now in jeopardy, according to the most detailed evaluation of the conservation status of freshwater fishes in the last 20 years.

The 700 fishes now listed represent a staggering 92 percent increase over the 364 listed as "imperiled" in the previous 1989 study published by the American Fisheries Society. Researchers classified each of the 700 fishes listed as either vulnerable (230), threatened (190), or endangered (280). In addition, 61 fishes are presumed extinct.

The new report, published in Fisheries, was conducted by a U.S. Geological Survey-led team of scientists from the United States, Canada and Mexico, who examined the status of continental freshwater and diadromous (those that migrate between rivers and oceans) fish.

"Freshwater fish have continued to decline since the late 1970s, with the primary causes being habitat loss, dwindling range and introduction of non-native species," said Mark Myers, director of the USGS. "In addition, climate change may further affect these fish."

If immigration continues unabated the United States alone will have 450 million people by the middle of the century. Habitats will shrink further and we'll lose lots of these species of fish along with other types of species.

Lots of types of fish are threatened.

The groups of fish most at risk are the highly valuable salmon and trout of the Pacific Coast and western mountain regions; minnows, suckers and catfishes throughout the continent; darters in the Southeastern United States; and pupfish, livebearers, and goodeids, a large, native fish family in Mexico and the Southwestern United States. 

Nearly half of the carp and minnow family and the Percidae (family of darters, perches and their relatives) are in jeopardy. Fish families important for sport or commercial fisheries also had many populations at risk. More than 60 percent of the salmon and trout had at least one population or subspecies in trouble, while 22 percent of sunfishes  which includes the well-known species such as black bass, bluegill and rock bass  were listed. Even one of the most popular game species in the United States, striped bass, has populations on the list.

This problem is going to get worse. Population growth and economic growth along with depleting fossil fuels all push more land into human uses.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2008 September 09 10:00 PM  Trends Extinction


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