Coherent assessments of Europe’s marine fishes show regional divergence and megafauna loss

Paul G Fernandes, Gina M Ralph, Ana Nieto, Mariana García Criado, Paraskevas Vasilakopoulos, Christos D. Maravelias, Robin M. Cook, Riley A. Pollom, Marcelo Kovačić, David Pollard, Edward D Farrell, Ann-Britt Florin, Beth A. Polidoro, Julia M Lawson, Pascal Lorance, Franz Uiblein, Matthew Craig, David J Allen, Sarah L Fowler, Rachel H L WallsMia T Comeros-Raynal, Michael S. Harvey, Manuel Dureuil, Manuel J Conceicao Biscoito, Caroline Pollock, Sophy R McCully Phillips, Jim R Ellis, Constantinos Papaconstantinou, Alen Soldo, Çetin Keskin, Steen Wilhelm Knudsen, Luís Gil de Sola, Fabrizio Serena, Bruce B Collette, Kjell Nedreaas, Emilie Stump, Barry C Russell, Silvia Garcia, Pedro Afonso, Armelle B J Jung, Helena Alvarez, Joao Manuel Mendes Henriques Delgado, Nicholas K Dulvy, Kent E Carpenter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Citations (Scopus)
12 Downloads (Pure)


Europe has a long tradition of exploiting marine fishes and is promoting marine economic activity through its Blue Growth strategy. This increase in anthropogenic pressure, along with climate change, threatens the biodiversity of fishes and food security. Here, we examine the conservation status of 1,020 species of European marine fishes and identify factors that contribute to their extinction risk. Large fish species (greater than 1.5 m total length) are most at risk; half of these are threatened with extinction, predominantly sharks, rays and sturgeons. This analysis was based on the latest International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) European regional Red List of marine fishes, which was coherent with assessments of the status of fish stocks carried out independently by fisheries management agencies: no species classified by IUCN as threatened were considered sustainable by these agencies. A remarkable geographic divergence in stock status was also evident: in northern Europe, most stocks were not overfished, whereas in the Mediterranean Sea, almost all stocks were overfished. As Europe proceeds with its sustainable Blue Growth agenda, two main issues stand out as needing priority actions in relation to its marine fishes: the conservation of marine fish megafauna and the sustainability of Mediterranean fish stocks.
Original languageEnglish
Article number0170
Number of pages10
JournalNature Ecology & Evolution
Early online date26 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2017

Bibliographical note

P.G.F. and R.C. received funding from the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland (MASTS) pooling initiative, funded by the Scottish Funding Council (grant reference HR09011) and contributing institutions. The European Red List of marine fishes was a project funded by the European Commission (Directorate General for the Environment under service contract number 070307/2011/607526/SER/B.3).


  • conservation biology
  • marine biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Coherent assessments of Europe’s marine fishes show regional divergence and megafauna loss'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this