From the Independent.UK
The Mediterranean, once a playground for a vast array of species, is turning into a graveyard of natural life with more than 40 per cent of its shark and stingray population under threat.
The Mediterranean has the highest numbers of threatened sharks and rays in the world, according to a report published yesterday by the World Conservation Union (IUCN). The study blamed the dramatic threat to these indigenous species on a combination of over-fishing (including accidental by-catches), degradation of habitat and human disturbances.
"From devil rays to angel sharks, Mediterranean populations of these vulnerable species are in serious trouble," said Claudine Gibson, Programme Officer for the IUCN Shark Specialist Group (SSG) and co-author of the report.
"Our analyses reveal the Mediterranean as one of the world's most dangerous places on Earth for sharks and rays. Bottom-dwelling species appear to be at greatest risk in this region, due mainly to intense fishing of the seabed."
In all, 71 species of sharks, rays and chimaeras (cartilaginous fishes) were assessed in the study, that showed 30 species threatened with extinction. Of those, 13 were classified as critically endangered, eight as endangered and nine as vulnerable.
Another 13 species were classified as near threatened, while a lack of information led to 18 species being classified as data deficient. There were only 10 species in the whole investigation deemed to be of least concern.
The report is the third in a series of regional assessments of the Mediterranean by IUCN.
At present, there are no catch limits for fished species of Mediterranean sharks and rays.
The Maltese skate is one of the species under greatest threat. Found only in the Mediterranean, it has seen population declines of 80 per cent, largely because of bottom trawl fisheries. The angular roughshark and three species of angel shark have also been termed critically endangered. The porbeagle and shortfin mako also fell into the category of critically endangered, predominantly because their meat and fins are prized delicacies...
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