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Freshwater Fish Conservation: Part 2

Posted: February 7, 2011, 5:10 p.m., EDT

Habitat is Critical

In his address to the 4th International Zoo and Aquarium Symposium, held this past November, Dr. Simon Stuart, Chair of the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Species Survival Commission, emphasized that "there is a significant and growing challenge ahead to conserve freshwater habitats and species, and it is important to consider all the options that are available to conservationists to prevent or reduce negative impacts".

Dr. Stuart attended the conference to present the results of the 10th Convention of Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), held in Nagoya in October, where the 185 countries that are signatories to the Convention agreed upon the targets for the conservation of the world's biodiversity during the next 10 years.

Greater protection for inland waters and sustainable management of inland fisheries are now, for the first time, specifically mentioned in a number of the CBD targets. This calls for a significantly increased investment in research, conservation planning, and management as far as inland waters are concerned.

An immediate action for the IUCN SSC/WI Freshwater Fish Specialist Group is supporting the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. (The Ramsar Convention is an intergovernmental treaty that embodies the commitments of its member countries to maintain the ecological character of their Wetlands of International Importance and to plan for the "wise use", or sustainable use, of all of the wetlands in their territories.) The Freshwater Fish Specialist Group has an extremely valuable opportunity to contribute to this Convention, specifically through advising on fish-related criteria for recognizing Ramsar conservation sites.

All participants at the meeting highlighted the desperate need for conservation action for many species of freshwater fish around the world. Results from the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, presented by Dr. William Darwall, from IUCN's Species Programme in Cambridge, U.K., showed that the world's fresh waters are among the most threatened of all habitats, and freshwater fish are being severely impacted.

"Nevertheless, we still lack basic data on the biological diversity of many freshwater habitats around the world, and the threats they face," he said. More action on assessing the risk of extinction to species, as defined through the criteria used in the IUCN Red List, is urgently needed.

Read: Freshwater Fish Conservation: Part 1

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Freshwater Fish Conservation: Part 2

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