Countries With The Most Threatened Fish Species

With the US and Mexico at 1st and 3rd, respectively, much work needs to be done to ensure the integrity of North America's aquatic ecosystems.

The term "threatened species", according to the definition used by the IUCN, or the International Union for Conservation of Nature, means that a particular species has been determined to be vulnerable or likely to become endangered if the factors threatening its reproductive and other life cycles are not removed. These factors have much to do with habitat loss. The IUCN uses a set of criteria to determine whether an animal or plant species is vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered. Then, action is taken by a concerned country in the form of measures such as prohibited hunting and the creation of preserves for the protection of such species.

10. South Africa (103 threatened fish species)

South Africa lists 103 threatened fish species in its lakes, rivers, streams, and coastal marine waters. The IUCN compiled the latest list of threatened fish species there in 2014. The list includes marine and freshwater species alike, such as basses, wrasses, sharks, pompanos, kingfishes, stumpnoses, and breams. The main causes of the problem in South Africa are line fishing, and overfishing by recreational, commercial, and subsistence fishermen alike. Public awareness of the root causes, however, is not well entrenched. This lack of information poses an obstacle to public compliance, and inhibits conservation efforts across the board.

9. Australia (111 threatened fish species)

Australia has about 111 threatened fish species in its native freshwater and marine habitats. The government has found that human activities are the prime culprits in worsening the problem. Hunting and losses of habitat are counted as falling under that same category, while commercial and recreational fishing also count as part of the threat. Among the threatened Australian freshwater fish on the list are lampreys, eels, herrings, galaxias, and catfishes. Freshwater fish communities in some parts of the country have but few species, which means that if a particular species dies off then there are no replacement species to carry out their respective ecological roles.

8. Cameroon (119 threatened fish species)

Cameroon has 119 threatened fish species in its crater lakes, rivers, marine waters, and watersheds. The country is important in the conservation effort because it has about 21% of the fish species of Africa. Tilapia, catfish, sharks, and seahorses are among the threatened freshwater and marine fish species in the list comiled by the IUCN that are native to Cameroon. The use of fish poisons, small meshed fishing nets that capture juvenile fish, and a lack of technical guidance from the Department of Fisheries to local fishermen all contribute to the problem.

7. Turkey (131 threatened fish species)

Turkey has 131 threatened fish species in its native waters, which include rivers, lakes, seas, and watersheds. The IUCN last complied a list of threatened fish species in Turkey in 2015. Topping the list are the lamprey species and the tooth carps. Data-deficient fish specie, meanwhile, are difficult to classify. Some identified causes of the problem are the irrigation, drainage projects, and dams found in the country. As a result, wetlands and rivers have completely disappeared that used to be home to many native fish species. Another issue is the weakening of Turkey's conservation laws, which are being replaced by new, more lax conservation laws that allow greater development in formerly protected areas.

6. China (131 threatened fish species)

China has about 131 threatened fish species in its inland and coastal waters. Topping the list are its ray-finned fishes and cartilaginous fish species. Some of these fish are endemic to China, and therefore call for even greater protection. Human activities and pollution are two of the primary causes of the problem. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) of Wild Flora and Fauna counts China as a signatory, and as such the nation adheres to convention's designations of endangered species. The Chinese State Council is also active in the conservation efforts.

5. Indonesia (150 threatened fish species)

Indonesia has a list of 150 threatened fish species in its rivers, lakes, and marine waters. The Indonesian Ministry of the Environment has been taking measures to combat the threat to its fish species, especially those in the "Coral Triangle". It has determined that overfishing, climate change, and habitat destruction caused by dynamite and chemical fishing are the main culprits. Despite the large biodiversity of the fishes in the Coral Triangle area, it also is the most threatened in the country. The cyprinida, cyprinus, and aquidens species are notably included in the list.

4. Tanzania (175 threatened fish species)

Tanzania has taken steps in protecting its wildlife, including about 175 threatened fish species in its native waters. Among the fish species that need attention are those in the wetlands that dry up on formerly covered lands during the dry season. Tanzania's wetlands are a home to 19 fish species, such as the Barbus jacksonii and B. paludinosus, both of which are listed as threatened species. Conservation efforts include the study of the effects of the dry season and the huge animals, such as hippos and crocodiles, in the remnant pools, and the fish species that must endure the filth of these other animals.

3. Mexico (179 threatened fish species)

Mexico has about 179 threatened fish species in its lakes, rivers, and gulf waters. The Gulf sturgeon tops the list, followed by the small-tooth sawfish. The latest list was compiled in 2014. The introduction of invasive species has threatened many native fish species in Mexico. The government has established protected areas for these fish species, but requires more enforcement to carry out their programs effectively. Habitat loss is another aspect that has to be addressed to improve the conservation efforts of the government towards protecting Mexican fish species.

2. India (216 threatened fish species)

India has about 216 threatened fish species in its rivers, lakes, and coastlines. The IUCN compiled the list in 2015, and the Mahseer coldwater fish, found in the sub-Himalayan coldwaters, tops the list. There are also many other threatened fish in India's lakes, rivers, and marine waters. The Asian Arowana and some barbs are also found on the list. Conservation efforts such as captive breeding and identification are being done, although the difficulty in determining fish statuses in India is quite obvious.

1. USA (247 threatened fish species)

The United States has a list of 247 threatened fish species in its native waters. Topping the list of these in terms of recognition is the Atlantic bluefin tuna. Among other threatened U.S. fish species are the Banded sunfish, salmon, chinook, sculpin, and steelhead trout. The list has been compiled by the US Department of Fish and Wildlife. Although the department is enthusiastic about conservation plans, time and money for it from the nation's Federal budget are in short supply. Other concerns are a lack of adequate data in many fish species.

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