A recent study from the University of Bath shows that fish are not only the most threatened marine species in Australia, but also one of the most ecologically sensitive.
In fact, according to the research, many species of marine life can survive in areas where their habitat is destroyed by human activities.
The research, published in the journal Conservation Biology, found that fish were more likely to be killed by humans than any other marine species, while there was no difference between species when it came to how many fish there were or where they were caught.
In terms of the amount of fish they kill, the study found that between 5 per cent and 7 per cent of the total population of fish in the Northern Territory are killed each year.
The study also found that in areas that have been heavily depleted of fish by mining, fishing and other human activities, such as pollution, there was a significant difference in the number of fish killed compared to areas with higher fish populations.
The researchers also found a higher proportion of the population of the species were killed by a single fish than there were in other regions.
“This means that there is no reason to believe that fish populations are protected by any single environmental factor, such in the case of habitat fragmentation,” Professor Matthew Beech, from the School of Biological Sciences, said.
“If the factors which reduce the number and type of fish species are not addressed, there is a risk that fish could be lost to the oceans.”
Professor Beech said that the species in the study were particularly vulnerable to the impacts of human activities like mining and pollution.
“In the Northern Territories, we found that the main impacts of environmental disturbance were fishing, fishing impacts and disturbance,” he said.
Mr Beech and his colleagues from the Faculty of Biological Science and the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology are calling on the Government to act to protect the world’s most threatened species.
“The government must be proactive in protecting fish stocks in a timely and comprehensive manner,” Professor Beech wrote in the report.
“We also call for the government to consider implementing a global moratorium on mining and other commercial fishing activities in areas of high marine productivity and habitat fragmentation, and implement the Convention on Biological Diversity.”