In North America, almost 40 percent of the fish species are in great jeopardy, according
to a new report published in 'Fisheries'. The research, was conducted by a U.S. Geological Survey-led team of scientists from the United States, Canada and Mexico.
The purpose of the study was to determine the condition of freshwater continental and diadromous (species that travel between rivers and oceans) fish.
Since the 1970s, freshwater fish have been on the decline, be it from loss of the habitats, diminishing ranges, invasive species and even possibly climate change.
Fish that were found to be the most vulnerable are salmon and trout that are found along the Pacific Coast and western mountain areas; minnows, suckers and catfish across the continent; darters found in the Southeastern U.S.; as well as pupfish, livebearers, and goodeids, a large, native fish family in Mexico and the Southwestern United States.
Fish that are listed as in jeopardy are, carp, minnows and Percidae (various species of darters and close relatives). Also on the list was fish that are used for sport or commercial fisheries; salmon and trout had one population or subspecies that are in trouble; others include sunfish, black bass, bluegill, rock bass and even striped bass.
Areas where there the greatest amount of fishes that are endangered are
Southeastern United States, the mid-Pacific coast, the lower Rio Grande and basins in Mexico that do not drain to the sea, as well as Tennessee (58 fishes), Mobile (57), and the southeastern Atlantic Slope river systems (34). The Pacific central valley, western Great Basin, Rio Grande and rivers of central Mexico also have high diversity and numbers of fish in peril, according to the report.
Comparing the 1989 report to the current one, the amount of imperiled fishes (89%) are still at the same level of endangerment or have become more at risk. 11% are listed as being improved or delisted. The report stresses that public awareness and proactive measures are essential to protect and recover our aquatic species.
USGS researcher Noel Burkhead, a lead author on the report and the chair of the AFS Endangered Species Committee said,
"Fish are not the only aquatic organisms undergoing precipitous declines. Freshwater crayfishes, snails and mussels are exhibiting similar or even greater levels of decline and extinction."
The fish that are on this new list were based on the best data that was available. This report is the third done by the American Fisheries Society's Endangered Species Committee regarding imperiled, freshwater and diadromous fishes of North America.