Freshwater biodiversity is declining at an alarming rate, warns new report

One-third of freshwater fish are threatened with extinction, according to the World’s Forgotten Fishes report. 

According to the report which was published by 16 global conservation organisations, populations of migratory freshwater fish have fallen by 76% since 1970, with freshwater biodiversity declining at twice the rate of that in oceans or forests.

According to the report, much of this decline is driven by the poor state of freshwater habitats in parts of the UK, with just 14.6% of rivers in England achieving Good Ecological Status last year.

This is mostly due to agricultural pollution such as nitrates and phosphorous and physical modifications to water bodies, such as dams, and, sewage.

Around the world, freshwater fish provide the main source of protein for 200 million people across Asia, Africa and South America, as well as jobs and livelihoods for 60 million people.

Dave Tickner, chief adviser on Freshwater at WWF, commented on the findings of the report: ‘Freshwater habitats are some of the most vibrant on earth, but – as this report shows – they are in catastrophic decline around the world. Nature is in freefall and the UK is no exception: wildlife struggles to survive, let alone thrive, in our polluted waters.

‘If we are to take this government’s environmental promises seriously, it must get its act together, clean up our rivers and restore our freshwater habitats to good health. That means proper enforcement of existing laws, strengthening protections in the Environment Bill to put UK nature on the path to recovery, and championing a strong set of global targets for recovery of nature, including rivers.’

Based on this report, WWF is calling on all governments to back the implementation of a global Emergency Recovery Plan for freshwater biodiversity. This would involve reducing pollution, allowing rivers to flow more naturally, controlling invasive species, and ending overfishing and removing obsolete dams.

Photo Credit – Pixabay

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Pippa Neill

Pippa Neill

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