Marine Alert!

by Rakesh Kalva
Rakesh Kalva
Species like the Guitar Fish are vulnerable to over-exploitation

Chosen as 'Picture of the Week'

While our focus is steadfast on charismatic, terrestrial animals, we often tend to lose sight of the hundreds or thousands of marine species that are gradually declining or disappearing from our seas.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, fish output in India doubled between 1990 and 2010. The populations of many marine species are threatened as a direct consequence of over-fishing to meet the increasing global demand (Myers et al., 2007). Many of these species have no local demand and are exported to China, USA, South-east asia etc. Two such species are shown in the image above – Bowmouth Guitarfish (Rhina ancylostoma) and Manta Ray. Both these species are assessed as ‘vunerable’ by the IUCN Red List. Their life history is such that they mature very late and give birth to only a few individuals, and hence are inherently vulnerable to over-exploitation (J. D. Stevens et al., 2000). It is critical to manage fishing of these species by developing catch limits or imposing a ban, otherwise it may lead to a drastic decline of their populations, which, if unchecked, can lead to local extinction.

When we talk about wildlife, population decline or extinction we generally think about animals like tigers, elephants, snow leopards or other such terrestrial species. But marine animals are equally important ecologically.

Related article about over-fishing: Something Fishy — Emptying India’s Seas

About the author

Rakesh Kalva

Rakesh Kalva is an alumnus of the Post Graduate Program in Wildlife and Conservation Biology, National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore.



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