Global freshwater fish populations at risk of extinction, study finds

Freshwater fish are under threat, with as many as a third of global populations in danger of extinction, according to an assessment.

Populations of migratory freshwater fish have plummeted by 76% since 1970, and large fish – those weighing more than 30kg – have been all but wiped out in most rivers. The global population of megafish down by 94%, and 16 freshwater fish species were declared extinct last year.

The report by 16 global conservation organisations, called The World’s Forgotten Fishes, said that global populations of freshwater fish were in freefall. The problems are diverse and include pollution, overfishing and destructive fishing practices, the introduction of invasive non-native species, climate change and the disruption of river ecologies. Most of the world’s rivers are now dammed in parts, have water extracted for irrigation or have their natural flows disrupted, making life difficult for freshwater fish.

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