Migratory freshwater fish decline by over 90% in South America

Migratory freshwater fish populations decline by over 90% in South America

Migratory freshwater fish populations in South America and the Caribbean have declined by more than 90% since 1970, a new study revealed.

According to the latest update from the Living Planet Index, these fish populations have fallen by 75% in Europe. Worldwide, the decline is 81%. 

Significant threats to the fish are dam constructions, pollution, climate change, and unsustainable fishing practices, which disrupt their migration routes and degrade habitats. 

Europe alone has an estimated 1.2 million barriers in its rivers, blocking fish migrations.

Pollution from urban and industrial wastewater, as well as agricultural runoff, further worsens the problem. 

Climate change is altering habitats and reducing the availability of freshwater, while unsustainable fishing continues to deplete fish populations.

Migratory freshwater fish

Migratory freshwater fish species, such as sturgeon, dorado, Atlantic salmon, European eel, and Pacific salmon, travel between freshwater and marine environments for breeding and feeding. 

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), a quarter of freshwater fish species are threatened with extinction, with migratory fish being particularly at risk.

The report analyzed data from 1,864 populations of 284 native migratory freshwater fish species. The World Fish Migration Foundation called for better long-term monitoring, river restoration and protection, and the removal of migration barriers. 

Researchers are also advocating for renewable energy alternatives to the thousands of new hydropower dams planned worldwide.

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