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.
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.”
To learn more:
- Read the news release: ‘Canaries’ of the ocean highlight threat to world’s ecosystems
- Read the full study: Patterns of Coral-Reef Finfish Species Disappearances Inferred from Fishers’ Knowledge in Global Epicentre of Marine Shorefish Diversity
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