News Release

New national Red List highlights species at risk of extinction

11 October 2011
Natterjack Toad (Epidalea calamita), listed as Endangered on the Irish Red List. Photo © Dominic Berridge, NPWS

Six of Ireland’s 15 native fish species (40%) and one of its three amphibians (33%) have been classified as Threatened on the recently published Red List of Irish Amphibians, Reptiles and Freshwater Fish.

The Irish Red List was compiled by scientists from organisations across the island, including Inland Fisheries Ireland, the National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS), the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) and the National Biodiversity Data Centre. It provides a comprehensive assessment of Ireland’s native amphibians, reptiles and freshwater fish, identifying those species most in need of conservation intervention. It also highlights the major threats these species face, so that mitigating measures can be implemented.

“The new Red List … gives us a ‘health-check’ on the status of the species listed,” says Dr. Cathal Gallagher of Inland Fisheries Ireland. “For us who work closely with fish this document catalogues the status, distribution and threats facing both our native and non native fish species. It points to outstanding issues that need to be addressed and gives us a time frame for actions.”

Of Ireland’s 15 native fish species, the European eel (Anguilla anguilla), was listed as Critically Endangered and five more were found to be Vulnerable; one was assessed as Near Threatened. One of the five native amphibians and reptiles assessed, the Natterjack Toad (Epidalea calamita), was found to be Endangered, while the remaining four are Least Concern.

For the first time, an objective assessment of the status of non-native fish that have become naturalised in Ireland has been completed. Two of these established non-native fish were identified as invasive species requiring management.

“This document provides scientists, managers and stakeholders with an analysis which can be used to support our fish populations for the next 10 years. Thanks must go to all who contributed to the development of this updated Red List,” added Dr. Gallagher.

Donna Cassidy of the NIEA highlighted the value of Red Lists in identifying species that are most at risk and drawing attention to the threats they face in order to target conservation.

Water pollution, the spread of invasive species, overfishing, unsympathetic river management and climate change are among a number of widespread threats affecting Irish species. Barriers to upstream migration are of particular importance to lampreys and shads, while habitat loss is the main concern for the Natterjack Toad.

“This is the sixth all-Ireland Red Data List to be published in recent years,” says Dr. Ferdia Marnell of NPWS, adding that with the input from NIEA, NBDC and other agencies across Ireland, Red Lists for moths, lichens, bryophytes and seaweeds are also underway.

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