Photo Credit: Hammerhead Sharks off Costa Rican coast




Because oceans influence so much of Earth's overall environment, trouble for the oceans means trouble for humankind. This has led to growing concern for marine species, key indicators of the oceans' health, and recent studies have warned that biodiversity is suffering from a potentially irreversible loss through over-fishing, climate change, invasive species and coastal development. 

Of the over 1,275 fish species assessed as threatened with extinction, many are marine species. As marine fishes play a key role not only for the ecosystem but also for the economy, the IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species has assessed, in particular commercially important species such as groupers, sharks and rays. Found around rocky and coral reefs of the tropics and sub-tropics, groupers are especially subject to over-exploitation. Meanwhile threatened species of shark and rays, which account for approximately 17% of all these fish species, were also assesed as suffering mainly from fishery activities.

A rapid implementation of sustainable practices in related industries is essential to reduce pollution and destructive development threatening the health of our oceans. Combined with targeted species conservation actions, this will help protect the beauty and value of marine biodiversity.


The IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) is a science-based network of some 7,500 volunteer experts from almost every country of the world, all working together towards achieving the vision of, “A world that values and conserves present levels of biodiversity."

Most members are deployed in more than 100 Specialist Groups and Task Forces. Some groups address conservation issues related to particular groups of plants or animals while others focus on topical issues, such as reintroduction of species into former habitats or wildlife health.

SOS fishes projects benefit from the species expertise of 11 dedicated IUCN Fish Specialist Groups, ranging from the Freshwater Fish Specialist Group to Shark and Marine Specialist Groups.


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