From narwhals to albatrosses: human pressures are straining migratory species

58% of sites important to migratory species are experiencing unsustainable levels of human pressure, and nearly half (44%) of these species are declining. These are some key findings The first report on the status of migratory species in the world presented on Monday by the United Nations, which also reveals that one in five species are listed under the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMSIts acronym in English) is threatened with extinction, including 97% of fish.

From wild bears to narwhals, bats and albatrosses, billions of animals make migratory journeys each year that take them across national borders and continents – by land, sea and air. They do this over thousands of kilometers across an area that is increasingly being altered by human activity and its effects, whether it’s the presence of pollutants or rising temperatures.

This first UN report confirms that the two greatest threats to CMS-listed species and all migratory species are overexploitation (including unsustainable hunting, overfishing and bycatch, as in fisheries) and habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation (from activities such as agriculture), as well as the expansion of transport and energy infrastructure.

“unsustainable activity”

“Today’s report makes clear that unsustainable human activities threaten the future of migratory species, creatures that not only act as indicators of environmental change, but also play an integral role in maintaining the function and stability of our planet’s ecosystems,” he explains. Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program. “The global community has an opportunity to translate this cutting-edge science on migratory species pressures into concrete conservation action.”

Today’s report makes clear that unsustainable human activities threaten the future of migratory species

Inger Andersen
Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program

The Convention defines a “migratory species” as “the entire population or geographically distinct part of a population of any species or sub-taxon of wild animals, a significant proportion of whose members cyclically and predictably cross the boundaries of one or more national jurisdictions”. The main focus of the report is on the 1,189 animal species recognized by CMS as being in need of international conservation and included in the CMS list, although it also presents analyzes related to more than 3,000 non-CMS migratory species.

A key finding is that extinction risk is increasing for globally migrating species, including those not listed in CMS. And that climate change, pollution and invasive species are also having a major impact on migratory species.

From Egyptian mustaches to camels

Over the past 30 years, 70 CMS-listed migratory species—including the steppe eagle, Egyptian vulture, and wild camel—have become increasingly threatened. This contrasts with only 14 listed species that now have better conservation status: these include blue and humpback whales, white-tailed sea eagles and black-faced spoonbills. Most alarmingly, the report’s authors point out that almost all fish species listed on the CMS – including sharks, rays and migratory sturgeon – face a high risk of extinction and their populations have declined by 90% since the 1970s.

Sea birds are also at risk. According to the report, bycatch remains one of the most important threats to these birds. “The impact is particularly severe for albatrosses and petrels,” they note. “Estimates from the early 2010s suggest that both longline and gillnet fishing kill hundreds of thousands of seabirds each year.”

Regarding rising temperatures, the report’s authors note that “many migratory species are already feeling the effects of climate change, and the role of climate change as a direct threat to biodiversity is expected to increase significantly in the coming decades.” Use the narwhal as an example. “Rising sea surface temperatures and retreating sea ice are expected to limit narwhal habitat (Monodon monoceros), a species that generally avoids seawater temperatures above 2°C and relies on sea ice,” they write.

When species cross national boundaries, their survival depends on the efforts of all countries where they occur.

Amy Fraenkel
CMS Executive Secretary

“Migratory species depend on different specific habitats at different times of their life cycle,” he explains Amy Fraenkel, CMS Executive Secretary. “They regularly travel, sometimes thousands of kilometers, to get to these places.” On this journey, he adds, they face enormous challenges and dangers along the way, as well as at the destinations where they breed or feed. “When species cross national borders, their survival depends on the efforts of all the countries where they occur. “This remarkable report will help support much-needed policy action to ensure the development of migratory species around the world.”

“We are facing a global problem; Biodiversity loss is the only truly irreversible change affecting planet Earth today. Inmaculada Alvarez-Manzaneda SalcedoResearcher at the University of Granada in applications SMC Spain. “Fortunately, this report provides a wealth of up-to-date data and knowledge about the causes of the decline of various migratory species, which is essential for biodiversity conservation. We cannot take measures to ensure the conservation of a species if we do not know the threats it faces. It’s in our hands.”

Full report link

Source: El Diario

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