Report finds that freshwater fish are suffering drastic decline due to climate change

A recent report conducted by 16 of the world’s leading conservation groups has found that the freshwater fish species are in danger of extinction due to climate change.

Known as The World’s Forgotten Fish, which was carried out by groups such as WWF, the London Zoological Society (ZSL), Global Wildlife Conservation and The Nature Conservancy, found that factors such as pollution, unsustainable fish practices and the draining of rivers and wetlands has seen as many as 16 species of freshwater fish become extinct over the past year alone.

The report has also said that populations of migratory fish have fallen by three-quarters in the last 50 years, which is having a severe impact on the lives and livelihood of millions of people around the world who rely on these fish as a source of food or business. If more are to become extinct this could set off domino effect across the global food supply chain.

This is not just an issue for developing economies but could also have severe consequences across major nations, with the UK in particular losing out on a key source of food and economic growth. The fishing and fish processing industries alone employ a total of 24,000 people, and contribute £1.4bn to the UK economy, with Scotland being heavily dependent on the sector. If rates continue then the job and economic losses to the UK would very damaging.

Already, species of fish such as the sturgeon and the burbot have vanished from the UK’s waters while salmon are becoming much harder to find. Across the continent the European eel remains critically endangered.

The WWF has called for urgent action to address the issue and to preserve the water’s ecosystem which is home to a lot of life and potential. It has called on the UK government to restore freshwater habitats to good health through enforcement of existing laws while also strengthening protections in the Environment Bill. WWF has also called on the championing of a strong set of global targets for the recovery of nature.

Although a simple solution has been provided, it still remains complex for the world to solve as it will require a collaborative effort which focuses on both large and small waters in order to protect its biodiversity for the future, while also ensuring human needs are met. This will require having to make countries and their governments more accountable for their actions in addressing the issue, which has difficulties in itself.