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1,500 marine species are at risk of extinction

Marine species; The Red List of threatened species of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) presented

By Ground report
New Update
COP15: 1,500 marine species are at risk of extinction

The Red List of threatened species of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) presented an update about threatened species, according to the category in which they are defined, showing the risk of extinction of a species, as the number of specimens has decreased.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature announced the update during the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, or COP15, conference in Montreal.

During the press conference to launch the List, Jane Smart, Director of the IUCN Science and Data Center, warned about the global crisis in the oceans, freshwater and Earth. “We need a big and ambitious plan to protect life on Earth and stop and reverse biodiversity or at least take concrete steps to reduce that loss. If we don't conserve species, the Global Biodiversity Framework is not going to work,” she noted.

Smart also said that with the List they seek to request a specific objective of species protection, since "the outlook is bleak, but each of the threats can have a solution, with the correct resources.

The new IUCN report includes 150,388 species, while in the 2019 report the figure was 112,432. Human activity and climate change are the main threats to species. Of those 150,000, 42,108 are threatened with extinction. And of 17,000 marine animals and plants, 1,550 are at risk of extinction. Climate change affects 41% of threatened marine species.

Heatwaves killed 99% of abalone

One of the species that worries experts the most is the abalone. Twenty of the 54 species of abalone molluscs ((Haliotis midae) are threatened with extinction. In South Africa, hunting by criminal networks is devastating to populations.

Additionally, previously, marine heatwaves killed 99% of abalone in northern Australia, in 2011. These heatwaves have also exacerbated disease, strongly affecting black abalone (H. cracherodii) in California and Mexico, where it is critically endangered. Added to this, heat waves kill the algae they feed on.

Another threat to algae, which has affected abalones in parts of the Arabian Peninsula, is agricultural and industrial runoff and antifouling paint from ships.

Howard Peters, a member of the IUCN Mollusc Specialist Group and Research Associate at the University of York, UK, noted that “abalones reflect humanity's disastrous stewardship of our oceans in microcosm: overfishing, pollution, disease, habitat loss, algal blooms, warming and acidification, to name just a few threats. They really are the canary in the coal mine."

Main threats unintentional capture

Another marine animal species that worries scientists is that of dugongs, located in East Africa and New Caledonia, they have entered the Red List as Critically Endangered and Endangered, respectively. There are now fewer than 250 mature individuals in East Africa and fewer than 900 in New Caledonia. Their main threats are unintentional capture in fishing gear in East Africa and poaching in New Caledonia, as well as injuries from boats in both places.

In East Africa, oil and gas exploration and production, along with trawling and chemical pollution, are destroying the seagrasses that dugongs feed on. In New Caledonia, agricultural runoff, damage from ship anchors, pollution from nickel mining, and coastal development are the main threats to pastures.

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