One-third of global freshwater fishes are facing the threat of extinction


As of 2020, 16 species have already gone extinct

We are receiving grim news from every research conducted on our ecosystem, that ranges from deep-sea corals to the creatures walking on land. The latest bit of information states that approximately one-third of the very diverse freshwater fish populations are on the verge of getting wiped out from the face of the Earth. About 51% of the known fish species are made up of freshwater fish.

The staggering drop in numbers were found after the latest assessment conducted and compiled by 16 global conservation organizations in a report titled ‘The World’s Forgotten Fishes.’ it was led by the World Wildlife Fund For Nature (WWF) and consisted of organisations like the London Zoological Society (ZSL), Alliance for Freshwater Life, Global Wildlife Conservation and The Nature Conservancy.

The drop in numbers

Credit: Fera

Currently, 18,075 species of fish have been identified, and they make up over half of the world’s fish species, as per the WWF statement. The report marks 16 freshwater fish species to have gone extinct in just one year in 2020. Also, the global population of mega fish (those weighing more than 60 pounds) have gone down by nearly 94% and migratory freshwater fish have declined by 76% since 1970. Currently, 30% of freshwater fishes are at risk of extinction, and the health of the freshwater ecosystem is declining at an alarming rate.

Causes behind this decline

Neon Tetra fish

According to the experts, various causes influence this decline in populations: overfishing, illegal fishing, habitat degradation, climate change, water pollution, presence of invasive non-native species and dams. A study published in the Science journal shows that human activity has caused endangerment for 23% of the total freshwater fish species.

It’s true that thanks to fisheries, nearly 200 million people get food and 60 million earn their livelihood, but the report states that freshwater fishes are highly neglected and undervalued, making them endangered. The assessment urges governments and citizens to protect and restore water quality and ensure their survival.


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