Europe's freshwater fish threatened



Two hundred of Europe's 522 freshwater fish species are threatened with extinction and 12 are already extinct, according to the Handbook of European Freshwater Fishes, published in collaboration with the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and released on 1 November 2007. IUCN notes that the main threats to fish species stem from development and population growth and include water withdrawals, large dams, and inappropriate fisheries management that has led to overfishing and the introduction of alien species. Authors Maurice Kottelat, former president of the European Ichthyological Society, and Jörg Freyhof, scientist from Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology, noted that fish conservation should be managed by agencies in charge of conservation, and not as a crop by agencies in charge of agriculture. William Darwall, senior program officer with IUCN's Species Program, said the species “are critical to the freshwater ecosystems upon which we do depend, such as for water purification and flood control.”