Nearly 40% of North American freshwater fish species are imperiled, according to a new status report from the American Fisheries Society (AFS). The first update to the AFS imperiled freshwater species list in nearly 20 years now includes 700 species, a 92% increase over 1989. The committee classified each of the 700 fish on the current list as either vulnerable (230), threatened (190), or endangered (280). In addition, 61 fish species are presumed extinct. Only two species were linked to waters in the Boreal Forests of NW Ontario.
Major causes for including species on this list included habitat degradation (affecting 92% of fish on the list) and restricted range (72%) for fish found in a small area or even a single waterbody. Other common listing factors were overexploitation, disease/parasitism, and problems arising from the introduction of nonnative species. Three regions with particularly high numbers of imperiled taxa include the southeastern United States, the mid-Pacific coast, the lower Rio Grande, and basins in Mexico that do not drain to the sea.