According to new research from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), NYU Abu Dhabi, and other collaborators, 8.2% of marine bony fishes in the Arabian Gulf are threatened with extinction, which is at least twice the proportion of other regions where similar assessments have been implemented.
The study evaluated the regional conservation status of 471 species of marine bony fishes in the Arabian Gulf. Primary threats include fisheries and harvesting, and coastal development and loss of habitat, impacting 47% and 32% of marine bony fishes, respectively.
Such threats are particularly severe in nearshore areas where spatial analyses indicated high species richness - the number of different species represented in an ecological community, landscape, or region.
The research shows that threats to fish biodiversity mainly come from overfishing and from loss of habitat related to coastal development, particularly in species-rich nearshore areas along the coast of the UAE and the western Arabian Gulf. Loss of these species is likely to have significant effects on food web dynamics and the availability of fishes for human consumption in the future. The authors recommend that strong conservation and management efforts coordinated at the regional scale are necessary to reduce threats to these ecologically and economically important marine resources.