At the end of 2019, buried in other news stories and festive cheer, there was one story which struck a sombre note, the scientific confirmation of the extinction of the Chinese paddlefish (Psephurus gladius). In truth, the fate of the Chinese paddlefish has been sealed for a short-while, the changes to its habitat and fishing pressures providing an insurmountable barrier. Now the American paddlefish stands alone at the end of this evolutionary branch of fishes which first took root in the Jurassic period more than 200 million years ago.
While we should lament the loss of the paddlefish, we must also learn the lessons from its extinction and work towards making a difference for those fishes for which there is still time. In this article, we take a look at five species which are where the Chinese paddlefish was 20-30 years ago, clinging on, but in need of urgent conservation action.
While each of these stories strikes a sombre note in many respects – it should also be seen as a cause for optimism. For all of these species something can be done, it is not too late to take action to save them. There is a crucial window of opportunity, and many passionate people around the working towards seizing it, for these and many other freshwater species – unfortunately there was no shortage of candidates for this list. By working together, fish lovers around the world can make a difference to their fate and shift these species away from extinction. Shoal has been founded to help make this happen.