Environment Global migratory freshwater fish stocks tank

Global migratory freshwater fish stocks tank

The chips are down for some crucial aquatic species, thanks to something very fishy happening in the world’s rivers and lakes.

Scientists around the world have found that more than three quarters of migratory freshwater fish have disappeared in the last 50 years or so.

Charles Sturt University Fish Ecologist Professor Lee Baumgartner has co-authored a world-first report that found 93 per cent of migratory freshwater fish had declined in Europe, 84 per cent in Latin America and the Caribbean, and 59 per cent had disappeared here in the Oceania-Asia region since 1970.

Professor Baumgartner said the report’s findings reflect the catastrophic losses in migratory fish populations globally and that urgent action is needed, including here in Australia.

“What is concerning is the Asia-Oceania region is under-represented within the report’s dataset, and it seems likely the average decline calculated may underestimate the actual value,” Professor Baumgartner said.

“In the Murray-Darling Basin alone, native fish stocks are now estimated to be at less than 10 per cent of pre-European levels.”

Although changes to rivers caused by global warming were unavoidable, Professor Baumgartner said improved water management systems could improve the situation for migratory fish.

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