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Diversity, extinction risk and conservation of Malaysian fishes

Authors

  • V. C. Chong,

    Corresponding author
    1. Institute of Biological Sciences, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
    2. Institute of Ocean and Earth Sciences, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
      Tel.: +60379674220; fax: +60379674178; email: chong@um.edu.my
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  • P. K. Y. Lee,

    1. Institute of Biological Sciences, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
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  • C. M. Lau

    1. Institute of Biological Sciences, University of Malaya, 50603 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
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Tel.: +60379674220; fax: +60379674178; email: chong@um.edu.my

Abstract

A total of 1951 species of freshwater and marine fishes belonging to 704 genera and 186 families are recorded in Malaysia. Almost half (48%) are currently threatened to some degree, while nearly one third (27%) mostly from the marine and coral habitats require urgent scientific studies to evaluate their status. Freshwater habitats encompass the highest percentage of threatened fish species (87%) followed by estuarine habitats (66%). Of the 32 species of highly threatened (HT) species, 16 are freshwater and 16 are largely marine–euryhaline species. Fish extinctions in Malaysia are confined to two freshwater species, but both freshwater and marine species are being increasingly threatened by largely habitat loss or modification (76%), overfishing (27%) and by-catch (23%). The most important threat to freshwater fishes is habitat modification and overfishing, while 35 species are threatened due to their endemism. Brackish-water, euryhaline and marine fishes are threatened mainly by overfishing, by-catch and habitat modification. Sedimentation (pollution) additionally threatens coral-reef fishes. The study provides recommendations to governments, fish managers, scientists and stakeholders to address the increasing and unabated extinction risks faced by the Malaysian fish fauna.

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