NEWS & BLOG
World Fish Migration Day Ambassador
15 August 2019
I'm truly honored to have been asked World Fish Migration Day Ambassador. On 16 May 2020, we will once again celebrate all migratory fish species, in the hopes to raise awareness on these phenomenal species, but also to celebrate them. Migratory fish represent some of the more extraordinary animals on the globe, but many of them are unfortunately highly threatened. I hope you join me (and many others) and showing them some love on 16 May 2020, but also every day of the year!
Image to the right is a property of World Fish Migration Day.
The state of freshwater ecosystems
1 June 2019
I wondered what I should start my first blog post about, whether to make it about an article we recently published, or a recent field work adventure. But I opted to write about freshwater ecosystems, simply and broadly. So here goes my rent.
Freshwater ecosystems are the most threatened ecosystems in the world.
WWF calculates a Living Planet Index every two years; if you line up the trend for freshwater ecosystems against those for terrestrial and marine ecosystems, it's obvious how poor freshwater ecosystems are doing. Barriers - like hydroelectric dams - are responsible for the majority of this decline worldwide (but see Reid et al. 2018 here for a recent evaluation of threats).
Figure from Reid et al. 2018 with data from WWF 2016.
A recent paper published in Nature (here) revealed that only 37% of the world's large rivers are still free-flowing. And this calculation was done assuming that free-flowing rivers have >95% connectivity status (as opposed to 100%), and using national databases which we know aren't fully accurate (the authors do in fact acknowledge this to a certain degree). So, there is no doubt that less than 37% of the world's large rivers are still free-flowing.
In Denmark, the construction of the Tange Hydropower led to the extinction of the Gudenå Atlantic salmon population. Paddlefish used to be present in Canada, but they're now extinct and only found in the United States of America. Many of the sturgeon species worldwide are critically endangered (85% of them actually), making them the most threatened group of animals according to IUCN. And these are just a few examples...
Despite their critical condition, freshwater are forgotten more often than not. Even by organizations like the IUCN! Check out the ad they promoted on Endangered Species Day to the right; where are the fish? Where are the freshwater species? And what does selected crustaceans even mean?? And that is only a part of the frustration. People seem to care about fluffy cute mammals, or sharks, whales and other popular marine animals. But it's difficult to get people to care about smaller or less iconic fish and invertebrate species that live underwater, and which people don't get to see or interact with unless they're devoted anglers.
But the truth is, we depend on freshwater ecosystems for so much, and yet we treat them like sh*t. We have to do better. And we must do better.
Figure from the IUCN promoted on Endangered Species Day, 2019.
Image from the Sustainable Eel Group website (2017).