59 species disappeared in Philippines since 1950s

Written by on June 8, 2016 in Fish, Marine Life

A recent study reveals that 59 species of finfish have disappeared from fishermen’s catches in some of the world’s most species rich and vulnerable regions over the last 65 years.

The Coral Triangle region is known for its biodiversity, as seen in this small section of House Reef in the Philippines. Photo credit: Dave Burdick, NOAA.

The Coral Triangle region is known for its biodiversity, as seen in this small section of House Reef in the Philippines. Photo credit: Dave Burdick, NOAA.

With the help of local fishermen in the Philippines, researchers from Newcastle University examined the decline of finfish populations over coral reefs. They identified 59 species that fishermen no longer catch and five that are currently fighting for survival.

“Most of us still think that nature is unlimited in the oceans,” lead scientist Nick Polunin said in a news release. “But our coral reefs are good sentinels of global ocean change, and like the canary in the coal mine, they’re telling us there’s not much time left for action.”

Coral reefs are home to about a quarter of all known marine fish species. For this particular study, researchers focused on five areas in the Philippines known for their species richness. They conducted more than 2,600 interviews with local fishermen and found 59 species that have “gone missing” since the 1950s.

Polunin explained that these loses are a result of “unsustainable exploitation” and “mirror what is happening in ecosystems around the globe.”

“This paper provides clear evidence of the dramatic decline of once common reef fish, and the value of local knowledge in helping to build an accurate picture,” said co-author Professor Selina Stead. “Governments worldwide increasingly request evidence to support policy change and hopefully this paper will highlight the need for urgency for action.”

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Copyright © 2016 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of MarineScienceToday.com. She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .

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