Dec. 10, 2020, 9:02 PM +03 / Updated Dec. 10, 2020, 11:46 PM +03
By Denise Chow
Thirty-one animal and fish species have been declared extinct and more than 300 species of sharks and rays are now threatened with extinction, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which published a report Thursday.
Among those at risk are four hammerhead shark species, four species of angel shark and the giant manta ray. The organization’s report — its first comprehensive global update since 2014 — paints a grim picture of the health of the world’s oceans and their inhabitants, and highlights, in particular, the threat of overfishing.
“These findings are sadly predictable,” Andy Cornish, head of the World Wide Fund for Nature’s shark and ray conservation program, said in a statement. “Twenty years have passed since the international community recognized the threat of overfishing through the International Plan of Action for Sharks. Yet, obviously, not nearly enough has been done to halt the overfishing that is pushing these animals to the brink of extinction.”
The International Union for Conservation of Nature regularly documents the state of the world’s animal and plant species and provides the most authoritative reports on those that are threatened, critically endangered or extinct.
In the group’s update, a total of 316 species of sharks, rays, skates and chimaeras are now classified as “threatened,” or at risk of extinction in the wild. All of the world’s freshwater dolphin species are also now threatened with extinction, according to the assessment.
The lost shark, Carcharhinus obsoletus, a native of the South China Sea and last recorded in 1934, may already be extinct as a result of overfishing in one of the most heavily trafficked marine regions on the planet, the report found.
Cornish said the update should trigger “alarm bells” and motivate governments to take action to reduce overfishing of sharks and rays.