The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and Sharks (2023)

​The IUCN Red List
​of Threatened Species and Sharks *

​* The term ‘shark’ refers to all species of sharks, rays, and chimaeras.

Written by Rima Jabado

What is the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species?

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species is the world’s most comprehensive global information source on the conservation status of plant, fungi, and animal species. Each species is assessed against the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria to determine their relative extinction risk. The aim is to identify which species face an elevated risk of extinction (i.e., most likely to become extinct in the near future) and use this information to inform and catalyze biodiversity conservation action.

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and Sharks (1)

The IUCN Red List isnot a list of species that are high priorities for conservation action.While extinction risk is an important factor to consider when determining which species to invest in, establishing conservation priorities ultimately depends on other important factors, including financial, cultural, logistical, biological,ethical, and social considerations, to ensure conservation actions can be maximized.


The IUCN Red List does not have a legal status. A species assessment does not imply that a species should be protected or is protected in a country or region. In fact, most countries have their own national lists to assess and prioritize the conservation of species that may then lead to legislative protection.


What does each IUCN Red List category mean?

​The IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria are intended to be an easily and widely understood system for classifying species at high risk of global extinction. All of the world’s species fall into one of nine IUCN Red List Categories based on five criteria (A-E) linked to population trend, population size, and geographic range (Figure 1). Each criterion has a set of quantitative thresholds that determine which (if any) of the threatened categories (Critically Endangered, Endangered, or Vulnerable) a species qualifies for. If none of the thresholds are met, then it must be decided which of the Red List Categories is appropriate for that species.


IUCN Red List Categories are official terms and, when cited, should be treated as proper nouns and capitalized without quotation marks (e.g., Data Deficient).


(Video) IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™: July 2022 Update

Figure 1: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Categories in increasing order of risk from bottom to top (Source: IUCN, 2012).

Extinction risk and sharks

To date, extinction risk has been evaluated for more than 128,500 species, around 6% of the world’s known species. The majority of the world’s species currently sit in the Not Evaluated (NE) category and these are not listed on the IUCN Red List.

The IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) Shark Specialist Group (SSG) is responsible for the assessment of sharks for the IUCN Red List. By 2021, almost all known sharks (~1250 species) have been assessed using the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria. These assessments have been completed at the global level, that is, for the species’ entire global range and population. Additionally, some species have also been assessed at the sub-global level, for example a specific region (e.g., Europe), country, or subpopulation (e.g., some species like the Largetooth Sawfish (Pristis pristis) has a global assessment and separate assessments for each of its four subpopulations).

Assessments are an important component of the IUCN SSC Shark Specialist Group workplan as the assessment process is essentially continuous. Each assessment only has a lifespan of 10 years and therefore species need to be reassessed every decade. Furthermore, assessments are needed for newly described species and taxonomic changes. This effort is only possible because of contributions from IUCN SSC Shark Specialist Group members as well as non-member conservation scientists and experts from around the world who providethe best available scientific information on the taxonomy, distribution, population size and trends, habitat and ecology, threats, use and trade, and current and future recommended management measures.

The IUCN Red List is published onlineat least twice a year.Anyone looking to understand the status of sharks should regularly consult this resource since the status of individual species may change as they are reassessed.


If a species is not listed on the IUCN Red List website, it means that the species sits in the Not Evaluated category and that an assessment has yet to be completed.


(Video) IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™: March 2021 Update

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and Sharks (3)

A taxon is Extinct (EX) when there is no reasonable doubt that the last individual has died(including all captive and herbarium individuals).A taxon is presumed Extinct when exhaustivesurveys in known and/or expected habitat, at appropriate times (diurnal, seasonal, annual), throughout its historic range have failed to record an individual. Surveys should be over a time frame appropriate to the taxon’s life cycle and life form.

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and Sharks (4)

A taxon is Extinct in the Wild (EW) when it isknown only to survive in cultivation, captivity, oras a naturalized population (or populations) welloutside the past range. A taxon is presumed Extinct in the Wild when exhaustive surveys in known and/or expected habitat, at appropriate times (diurnal, seasonal, annual), throughout its historic range have failed to record an individual. Surveys should be over a time frame appropriateto the taxon’s life cycle and life form.

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and Sharks (5)

A taxon is Critically Endangered (CR) when thebest available evidence indicates that it meetsany of the criteria A to E for Critically Endangered,and it is therefore considered to be facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and Sharks (6)

A taxon is Endangered (EN) when the bestavailable evidence indicates that it meets any of the criteria A to E for Endangered, and it istherefore considered to be facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild.

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and Sharks (7)

A taxon is Vulnerable (VU) when the bestavailable evidence indicates that it meets anyof the criteria A to E for Vulnerable, and it istherefore considered to be facing a high risk of extinction in the wild.

(Video) What is the IUCN Red list? | Red list Explained

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and Sharks (8)

A taxon is Near Threatened (NT) when it has beenevaluated against the criteria but does not qualifyfor Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable now, but is close to qualifying for or is likely to qualify for a threatened category in the near future.

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and Sharks (9)

A taxon is Least Concern (LC) when it has beenevaluated against the criteria and does not qualifyfor Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerableor Near Threatened. Widespread and abundant taxa are included in this category.

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and Sharks (10)

A taxon is Data Deficient (DD) when there is inadequate information to make a direct, or indirect,assessment of its risk of extinction based on itsdistribution and/or population status. A taxon in this category may be well studied, and its biology well known, but appropriate data on abundance and/or distribution are lacking.

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and Sharks (11)

A taxon is Not Evaluated (NE) when it is has notyet been assessed under the IUCN criteria.Currently, this applies to most of the world’sdescribed species. We don’t know whether these species are at a high or a low risk of extinction, or if they are already extinct.


Data Deficient is not a category of threat. Listing of taxa in this category indicates that more information is required and acknowledges the possibility that future research will show that threatened classification is appropriate.


(Video) IUCN Red List webinar series – 03a IUCN Species Information Service (SIS)

Further reading

Please visit this article in our Shark News magazine

To read more about the IUCN Red List click here

FAQs

What is IUCN Red List explain briefly? ›

What is The IUCN Red List? Established in 1964, The International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species has evolved to become the world's most comprehensive information source on the global conservation status of animal, fungi and plant species.

How many sharks are on the IUCN Red List? ›

The IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) Shark Specialist Group (SSG) is responsible for the assessment of sharks for the IUCN Red List. By 2021, almost all known sharks (~1250 species) have been assessed using the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria.

What is the IUCN status for sharks? ›

The most recent global IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM (hereafter 'IUCN Red List') assessment of sharks estimated that over one third of species (37%, range 32.6–45.5%) are threatened with extinction (i.e., considered Critically Endangered, Endangered, or Vulnerable; Dulvy et al., 2021).

What is a IUCN Red List assessment quizlet? ›

IUCN Red List Goal. To provide information and analyses on the status, trends and threats to species in order to inform and catalyse action for biodiversity conservation.

What is the conclusion of IUCN? ›

Conclusion

The IUCN Red List of Ecosystems is a tool in the portfolio of knowledge products mobilized by IUCN [34] to assess biodiversity change at a level of organization above that of species. By tracking the status of ecosystems, it identifies ongoing ecosystem declines and positive impacts of conservation action.

What is the main purpose of IUCN? ›

IUCN is the global authority on the status of the natural world and the measures needed to safeguard it. Its experts are organised into six Commissions dedicated to species survival, environmental law, protected areas, social and economic policy, ecosystem management, and education and communication.

What are the main threats to sharks? ›

Seventeen out of the 39 pelagic shark species are threatened with extinction. As with most shark species, overfishing is by far the biggest threat to most larger reef sharks, while damage to reef and other key habitats is also having an impact.

What are some threats to sharks list? ›

Sharks and rays are threatened by the demand for fins, overfishing, fisheries bycatch, habitat and prey loss, and human disturbance.

Are 90% of sharks gone? ›

“It's a great mystery,” Elizabeth Sibert, a paleobiologist and oceanographer at Yale University, told Science News. “Sharks have been around for 400 million years. They've been through hell and back. And yet this event wiped out (up to) 90% of them.”

Why do sharks need to be protected by Cites? ›

The CITES Secretary-General, Mr John E. Scanlon, said: “Regulating international trade in these shark and manta ray species is critical to their survival and is a very tangible way of helping to protect the biodiversity of our oceans.

Are sharks endangered yes or no? ›

Unfortunately, they are. While many species of shark have sustainable populations, there are some that are disappearing from our oceans at a staggering rate. One study has suggested that during the last 50 years, the worldwide shark population has declined by over 70%.

What are the 7 categories of the IUCN Red List? ›

The 7 categories of IUCN Red List are as follows:
  • Extinct.
  • Extinct in the Wild.
  • Critically Endangered.
  • Endangered.
  • Vulnerable.
  • Near Threatened.
  • Least Concerned.

Which of the following are the uses of IUCN Red List *? ›

The IUCN Red List is used to inform decisions taken by Multilateral Environmental Agreements. It is often used as a guide to revise the annexes of some important international agreements, such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS).

What is Red List and Red Data list state their importance? ›

According to IUCN the formally stated goals of the Red List are to provide scientifically based information on the status of species and subspecies at a global level, to draw attention to the magnitude and importance of threatened biodiversity, to influence national and international policy and decision-making, and to ...

Is the IUCN Red List effective? ›

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, a species extinction risk assessment tool, has been guiding conservation efforts for over 5 decades. It is widely assumed to have been instrumental in preventing species from moving closer to extinction and driving recoveries.

Why do we need to protect endangered species? ›

Healthy ecosystems depend on plant and animal species as their foundations. When a species becomes endangered, it is a sign that the ecosystem is slowly falling apart. Each species that is lost triggers the loss of other species within its ecosystem. Humans depend on healthy ecosystems to purify our environment.

Why is biodiversity important IUCN? ›

Biodiversity is crucial to human well-being, and is increasingly threatened. Habitat destruction, invasive species, overexploitation, illegal wildlife trade, pollution and climate change put the survival of species worldwide at risk.

Why did IUCN prepare the Red Data list? ›

∙ This book was written primarily to help identify and protect endangered species.

What does the IUCN system measure? ›

The system was designed to measure the symptoms of extinction risk, and uses 5 independent criteria relating to aspects of population loss and decline of range size. A species is assigned to a threat category if it meets the quantitative threshold for at least one criterion.

What 3 shark species are responsible for most attacks on humans? ›

Nonetheless, the white, tiger and bull sharks are the “Big Three” in the shark attack world because they are large species that are capable of inflicting serious injuries to a victim, are commonly found in areas where humans enter the water, and have teeth designed to shear rather than hold.

Why are sharks a threatened species? ›

While the majority of shark species have sustainable populations, a number of them have been shrinking at an alarming rate. For these species, overfishing, bycatch, and shark finning are contributing factors in their decline.

What are three ways sharks are threatened by humans? ›

Overfishing, overfishing, overfishing

While sharks make a significant contribution to healthy oceans, human activity is diminishing their numbers. “There are three main threats to the planet's shark populations: Overfishing, overfishing and overfishing.

How many shark species are a threat to humans? ›

Of the over 500 different species of sharks found in the world's oceans, only about 30 have been reported to ever bite a human. Of these, only about a dozen should be considered particularly dangerous when encountered.

What causes the overfishing of sharks? ›

Some of the most destructive and damaging fishing methods affecting shark populations today include, gill netting, long-lines, trawling, sport fishing and of course finning.

Do sharks fall asleep? ›

Sharks can sleep, and often opt to keep their eyes open while they do, according to new research published in Biology Letters. Because some sharks must swim constantly to keep oxygen-rich water flowing over their gills, it has long been rumored that they don't snooze at all.

Is there an ocean without sharks? ›

These oceans are all inter-connected by a system of ocean currents that allow nutrients and minerals (and sharks) to pass between them. As such, there is still no ocean without sharks.

Did sharks survived the 5 mass extinctions? ›

While much of life became extinct during the End-Cretaceous extinction event, including all non-avian dinosaurs, sharks once again persisted.

How can we prevent shark extinction? ›

You don't have to be a science or policy expert to help our ocean's sharks
  1. Take action to help protect sharks from marine debris. ...
  2. Keep an eye out for sharks. ...
  3. Take the pledge to decrease your single-use plastic usage. ...
  4. Volunteer at the International Coastal Cleanup. ...
  5. Make smart choices when it comes to seafood.
Jul 31, 2019

Why should sharks not be protected? ›

Sharks are a vital part of our ocean environment. They act as apex or top predators, maintaining the balance of all life beneath them.

What is the role of CITES in regulating shark population? ›

CITES now governs the trade in shark and ray products—such as meat, oil, and gill plates—of the listed species. Still, the fin trade remains the principle driver of shark declines, and that area is where the CITES listings are having the most significant impact.

How many sharks have Cites protected? ›

First included in the CITES Appendices in 2003, most species of sharks and rays are listed in CITES Appendix II, which aims to ensure trade in these species is both legal and sustainable. There are currently 30 species of sharks and rays whose trade is managed by this Convention.

How many animals are in IUCN Red List? ›

The bad news, however, is that biodiversity is declining. Currently, there are more than 150,300 species on The IUCN Red List, with more than 42,100 species threatened with extinction, including 41% of amphibians, 37% of sharks and rays, 36% of reef building corals, 34% of conifers, 27% of mammals and 13% of birds.

How many sharks are critically endangered? ›

According to IUCN analysts, among the approximately 470 species of sharks, 2.4 percent are Critically Endangered, 3.2 percent are Endangered, 10.3 percent are Vulnerable, and 14.4 percent are Near Threatened.

Videos

1. IUCN Red list: Indian Rare Species found #iucnredlist #ytshorts #sharks #innovation ##gauriyamau
(Sodh AanWorld)
2. IUCN Red List: Bad news for sharks, Komodo dragon; tuna improving
(Al Jazeera English)
3. Another 31 species go extinct says IUCN
(Down To Earth)
4. Guide to the IUCN Endangered Species Classifications
(Zorak)
5. IUCN Red List webinar series – 03b IUCN Species Information Service (SIS)
(IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature)
6. A Primer on the IUCN Red List
(FSC Biodiversity)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Prof. An Powlowski

Last Updated: 03/25/2023

Views: 6257

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (64 voted)

Reviews: 95% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Prof. An Powlowski

Birthday: 1992-09-29

Address: Apt. 994 8891 Orval Hill, Brittnyburgh, AZ 41023-0398

Phone: +26417467956738

Job: District Marketing Strategist

Hobby: Embroidery, Bodybuilding, Motor sports, Amateur radio, Wood carving, Whittling, Air sports

Introduction: My name is Prof. An Powlowski, I am a charming, helpful, attractive, good, graceful, thoughtful, vast person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.