Sharks in decline due to climate change, but tuna population is 'on path to recovery' - report

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Sharks and rays are declining across the world, but the global tuna population is "on the path to recovery" after being fished to near extinction, a new report reveals.

Around 37% of shark and ray species are now threatened with extinction, up from 33% seven years ago, International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) data shows.

Climate change, loss of habitat and overfishing is driving the decline, according to the IUCN.

Its recent red list of endangered species now also includes the Komodo dragon due to rising sea levels and temperatures around its native Indonesia.

But tuna numbers are significantly up, with conservation efforts putting the global population "on the path to recovery".

The latest IUCN update shows progress for the Atlantic Bluefin tuna, which has moved from "endangered" to "least concern", and the albacore and yellowfin species, which have both been downgraded from "near threatened" to "least concern".

There are still some tuna stocks at risk, particularly those in the western part of the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean.

But a global drive towards sustainability in fishing methods appears to have counteracted over-consumption in several areas.

IUCN director Bruno Oberle said at the World Conservation Congress in Marseille that the tuna recovery is "the demonstration that if states and other actors take the right actions… it is possible to recover" from the devastating impact of climate change.

But the body stressed the consequences of the loss of sharks after figures showed the oceans' population has fallen 71% since 1970.

Elsewhere data revealed that more than half of all bird of prey species are declining worldwide, and 18 species are critically endangered.

Warming temperatures and melting ice are also estimated to endanger 70% of Emperor penguin colonies by 2050 and 98% by 2100.

Indiana Jones and Star Wars actor Harrison Ford made an impassioned plea to safeguard biodiversity at the opening of the Marseille conference on Friday

"It's hard to watch the rise of nationalism in the face of a global threat that requires global cooperation, global action," he said.

"It's hard to read the headlines - floods, fires, famines, plagues - and tell your children that everything is all right.

"It's not all right. Damn it, it's not all right. C'mon everybody. Let's get to work."

The conference, which runs until 11 September, is designed to inform the UN's Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow in September.

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