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Freshwater fish species globally are under grave threat according to the latest edition of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s Red List. Key findings
  • The world’s freshwater fish species, which number almost 18,000, are undergoing a dramatic and largely unrecognized global decline, as made apparent in the high levels of extinction threat to freshwater fish species in Japan and Mexico
    • Over half of Japan’s endemic freshwater fishes and more than a third of freshwater fishes in Mexico were threatened with extinction, the list of threatened species released on July 18, 2019
  • The main reasons behind this were the usual suspects, namely loss of free-flowing rivers and agricultural and urban pollution.
    • It was revealed recently that two-thirds of the world’s great rivers no longer flow freely.
  • The loss of these species would deprive millions of people of a critical source of food and income and could have knock-on effects on entire ecosystems.
India’s Case
  • India has an incredible diversity of freshwater fish, including many found nowhere else on earth. Of these, there are several in the most threatened category of Criticality Endangered, particularly in the southern peninsula, and many that are currently not assessed, which makes them extremely vulnerable
  • However, according to experts, there is a decline in India’s freshwater fish species but India's freshwater fish can still be saved
  • The main threats to native fish are gross and illegal pollution, and the loss of river flow and habitat due to dam building.
    • In India, it is alleged that fisheries experts are not consulted for their advice before a plan to construct a dam is drawn up.
  • Also high up the list of threats are releases of invasive fish that bring potential diseases and over-compete for finite resources.
  • Destructive fishing methods like use of poisons or dynamite not only harm fish, they also indiscriminately kill all wildlife and lessen the chances for future generations to sustainably harvest from rivers.
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