24 Aug 2019 Press Release Oceans & seas

Advancing research on endangered species in the Northwest Pacific region

Marine scientists and government officers agreed to further survey the species filed as endangered in the Northwest Pacific region in the 17th Focal Points Meeting of Data and Information Networking Regional Activity Centre of the Northwest Pacific Action Plan which was held in Dalian, China on 22–23 August 2019.

In 2014 and 2015, scientists confirmed that 69 species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature red list are present in the Northwest Pacific region. They expanded the research to 143 species in 2016 and 2017. The study finds that most of the surveyed endangered species in the region are animals, and only two are plants. Among animal species, 61 chordata (animals with a backbone), and six invertebrates were listed as endangered species. Among them, two species were ranked as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, namely the spoon-billed sandpiper and the sea-run Taimen. Among the remaining 67 species, 44 were ranked as vulnerable and 23 as endangered.

In 2018 and 2019, a total of 1,196 species listed on the Japanese red list were evaluated by national experts from China, the Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation. In order to better understand the situation of endangered species, promote information sharing, and contribute to biodiversity conservation in the region, participants in the Dalian meeting agreed to advance the study in the upcoming eight years. However, a knowledge gap existed in the development of the Marine Species Red List, and the information is inconsistent between member countries, which may constitute a challenge for the advance of this project. In 2020–2021, China will lead the project. The China Species Red List, issued by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the List of National Key Protected Wildlife, issued by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, will contribute to building a list of endangered species recognized in China.

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“We hope the study will help to verify whether a species endangered in one country is endangered in other countries as well. Some years ago, China presented a few crested ibis, a kind of endangered bird, to Japan. Japan has successfully cultivated more than a hundred of crested ibis and released them into the wild. We hope that Member States can exchange endangered marine species for conservation in the future,” said Yoshihisa Shirayama, lead expert of the project from Japan.

“This study will promote our work on the red list of marine species in China, for we do not have this kind of list yet, with the need of including more information on species,” said Hongjun Li, a Chinese expert from the National Marine Environmental Monitoring Centre.