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angelsharkCredit: Tony Gilbert/IUCN

40% Of Europe's Sharks And Rays Face Extinction

First complete assessment of Europe's marine fishes classifies 7.5 per cent of all marine species as threatened with extinction

The report, published by the IUNC (International Union for Conservation of Nature) and the European Commission on Wednesday, assessed all of Europe's 1,220 marine species listing 7.5 per cent of Europe's marine species and further 2.6 per cent as near-threatened.

Sharks, rays and chimaeras were found to be the most endangered group of species, with 40.4 per cent of them being threatened with extinction.

'While we have seen some progress, it is alarming that many commercially and ecologically important species continue to be at risk in Europe,' said Simon Stuart, Chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC). 'We need to take urgent action to reduce target and incidental catches of threatened species, and to set and enforce fishing quotas based on scientific understanding of population declines and multi-annual management plans for all commercial species of marine fishes.'

Overfishing and bycatch were identified as the main threat and have pushed blue sharks onto the IUNC's list of near-threatened species while the once widespread angelshark is now limited to the Canary Islands and has been classified as Critically Endangered.

While some fish stock management measures showed success - the stocks of the Atlantic cod and the Atlantic bluefin tuna have seen improving - other popular species, such as the Atlantic halibut and Atlantic salmon are heavily overfished. The common turbot for example has decreased by a third and is now classified as vulnerable.

Other threats to the biodiversity of the continent's waters are coastal development, energy production and mining, pollution and climate change. 

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