The European Red List of Marine Fishes was prepared by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). The publication summarizes the results for all native marine fish species found in Europe (1220 species). According to the analysis, several percent of them are threatened with extinction, mainly due to overfishing, coastal development, energy production and mining, and pollution. The European Red Book of Marine Fish is available on the European Commission’s website.

European red book of marine fishes – results of the research conducted

The survey conducted showed that 7.5 percent of the of all European marine fish species were considered endangered (i.e., at increased risk of extinction), and 2.6 percent. (26 species) as near threatened. For 204 species (20.6 percent), the available scientific information was inadequate, which was taken into account in the classification.

The European Red List of Marine Fishes also presents population trends of species. According to the analysis, in the case of 8.4 percent. (83 species) reported a population decline, 21.5 percent. (212 species) are less stable than in previous analyses, with only 1.7 percent. (17 species) saw an increase in population. Population trends for 676 species (68.4 percent) remain unknown.

Areas with the greatest diversity of marine fish species

The European Red List of Marine Fishes shows the areas with the greatest diversity of species. Such areas include. Portugal’s coast and the Macaronesian Islands. The largest concentrations of endemic species are found primarily in the Mediterranean, particularly along the European coast, including the Balearese, Ligurian, Tyrrhenian, Adriatic and Aegean Seas. Endangered species are most abundant around the Iberian Peninsula and the Canary Islands. The largest number of species for which sufficient data could not be collected was observed near the Macaronesian islands, particularly the Canary Islands and Madeira.

European red book of marine fish
Adobe Stock/Jakub Rutkiewicz

Major threats to marine fish in Europe

The biggest threat to fish species is excessive fishing activities. According to the data, it affects 425 marine fish species, 58 of which are endangered. The biggest problem is illegal fishing, not recorded in any way. Another threat affecting marine fish species is coastal and estuarine development. It is a threat to 37 species. Other dangers lurking for fish in European waters include. Energy production, resource extraction, transportation (shipping routes and service lines) or climate change.

For 177 species, the European Red List of Marine Fishes has identified no threats, and for 288 they remain unknown. The dangers affecting 523 species are described in detail.

European red book of marine fish – recommendations for the survival of marine fish

Improving the conservation status of marine fish and preventing future declines in their populations in Europe requires increased efforts and commitment from both European and neighboring countries. The most important recommendations to strengthen the long-term survival of marine fish species are:

  • Use of the European Red Book of Marine Fish to revise and properly implement European legislation;
  • Undertaking multinational initiatives for fisheries conservation;
  • Take immediate action to reduce target and incidental catches of species considered endangered;
  • Ensuring a common fisheries policy;
  • Improving ways to monitor and collect fisheries data.

You can read more about fish and the red list in the article“Red list of fish – fish and lampreys in the new list“.

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