Shark and Ray Conservation Status Revealed in New Expert Report
IUCN Specialist Group issues Red List Assessments for North & Central American species
VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Aug. 13, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ – The IUCN Shark Specialist Group (SSG) is releasing the first compilation of status assessments for nearly 300 sharks, rays, and chimaeras (chondrichthyan fishes) found in North American, Central American, and Caribbean waters conducted using on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species criteria.
The report shows that 13.5% of the region’s chondrichthyan species qualify for one of three “threatened” categories — Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable – associated with an elevated risk of extinction. Sixteen percent are classified as Near Threatened, 27% as Least Concern, and 43.4% as Data Deficient.
“Rays, including skates, dominate the chondrichthyan species we classified as Critically Endangered or Endangered, signaling an alarming yet largely unnoticed trend,” said lead author Dr. Peter Kyne. “The high proportion of Data Deficient shark and ray species reveals serious information and knowledge gaps, despite the exceptional research capacity in parts of the region.”
The most imperiled chondrichthyan species in the region are the sawfishes. Other highly threatened species include scalloped and great hammerheads, and the Caribbean electric ray, as well as three species of skates.
“Despite significant improvements in regional conservation programs for sharks and rays, overfishing continues to threaten these exceptionally vulnerable animals,” said Sonja Fordham, SSG Deputy Chair and President of Shark Advocates International. “The U.S. is home to some of the world’s only success stories for recovery of sharks, and yet many U.S. species still require more stringent fishing limits. In much of Central America and the Caribbean, there is an urgent for need basic data and controls to stem shark and ray population declines.”
The Northeast Pacific is in the best shape with a relatively high number of species listed as Least Concern and relatively few Data Deficient species.
“Our regional results reflect the global status of chondrichthyans, in that an estimated one-quarter of species are threatened and the most endangered of these species are rays,” said Dr. Nick Dulvy, SSG Co-Chair and Professor at Simon Fraser University. “The IUCN Shark Specialist Group is committed to using our expert analyses to inform research, conservation, and management priorities in this and other regions.”
The SSG is urging government action toward data collection, catch limits, endangered species protection, and international cooperation.
Notes to Editors:
The IUCN Species Survival Commission Shark Specialist Group was established in 1991 to promote sustainable use, wise management, and conservation of the world’s chondrichthyan fishes.
See http://www.iucnssg.org/index.php/regional-status-report for the report.
SOURCE IUCN Shark Specialist Group