Shark population in decline as Komodo dragon now ‘endangered’ – IUCN

Fishing quotas have led tuna numbers towards recovery, says group that compiles list of dwindling species

Some 37 per cent of the world’s sharks and rays are considered in danger as of 2021, up from 33 per cent seven years ago. Photograph: iStock

Some 37 per cent of the world’s sharks and rays are considered in danger as of 2021, up from 33 per cent seven years ago. Photograph: iStock

 

The world’s sharks and rays have seen declines in their populations since 2014 and more and more are now threatened with extinction, according to a new red list released at a global conference aimed at protecting dwindling species.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) also said the Komodo dragon is now listed as endangered, notably because of rising sea levels and rising temperatures in its Indonesian habitat.

Ebonies and rosewoods threatened by logging were among trees also put on the list for the first time this year, the IUCN conference in France heard.

There are signs of hope, too – fishing quotas have allowed several tuna species to be put on the “path to recovery”, the IUCN said.

The Komodo dragon is now listed as endangered. Photograph: iStock
The Komodo dragon is now listed as endangered. Photograph: iStock

Some 37 per cent of the world’s sharks and rays are considered in danger as of 2021, up from 33 per cent seven years ago, it said.

Overfishing, a loss of habitat and climate change explains the upward trend. Oceanic shark populations have dropped by 71 per cent since 1970. But the progress in reviving tuna populations and some other species “is the demonstration that if states and other actors take the right actions... it is possible to recover”, IUCN director Bruno Oberle said.

The IUCN red list unit reassesses hundreds of species each year. Of the some 138,000 species the group tracks, more than 38,000 are threatened with extinction.

Global warming

Several recent studies have shown that many of the planet’s ecosystems are severely strained by global warming, deforestation, habitat degradation, pollution and other threats.

More than half of all bird of prey species worldwide are declining in population, and 18 species are critically endangered.

Warming temperatures and melting ice are projected to imperil 70 per cent of Emperor penguin colonies by 2050 and 98 per cent by 2100.

Indiana Jones and Star Wars actor Harrison Ford made an impassioned plea to safeguard biodiversity at the opening of the World Conservation Congress in Marseille on Friday.

“It’s hard to watch the rise of nationalism in the face of a global threat that requires global co-operation, global action,” he said.

“It’s hard to read the headlines – floods, fires, famines, plagues – and tell your children that everything is all right. “It’s not all right. Damn it, it’s not all right.

“Come on everybody,” he said. “Let’s get to work.”

Environmental groups are urging governments to take bolder actions to protect the oceans, the Amazon and other crucial ecosystems.

The conference runs until September 11th.

Among the topics to be discussed at the event are the links between climate change and biodiversity loss, and the ethics of genetic enhancement to increase species’ chances of survival.

The talks are also meant to inform the UN’s global climate summit, the Cop26, which will be held in November in Glasgow. – AP