More than half of known species of coral reef sharks and rays are threatened with extinction, according to new research that underscores the urgent need for improved regional fisheries and marine protected areas management. The study, published Jan. 17 in the journal Nature Communications, identified 79 of the world’s 134 coral reef-associated rays and sharks — also known as chondrichthyans — as being in one of the threatened categories on the IUCN Red List. Overfishing appears to be the biggest cause for the population decline, followed by climate change, habitat loss and degradation, residential and commercial development, and pollution, the study authors said. “There are few policies that have been put in place to manage reef sharks and rays,” lead author Samantha Sherman, a postdoctoral research fellow at Simon Fraser University in Canada, told Mongabay in an email interview. “These species are difficult to manage as they occur mainly in countries with very high coastal populations that rely on resources from the ocean for food and earning money to support their families,” she added. “These countries also tend to have large numbers of small boats and small markets spread throughout the coast, which makes implementation of any policies difficult.” A manta ray in Flores, Indonesia. Image by Herry Jeremias/Mongabay Indonesia. The authors, who according to Sherman are mostly members of the IUCN’s Shark Specialist Group, developed a Red List Index to track the progress toward international biodiversity targets over the past half century. They found 14 species fit the “critically…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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