Research ArticleAPPLIED ECOLOGY

Identifying global centers of unsustainable commercial harvesting of species

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Science Advances  03 Apr 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 4, eaau2879
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aau2879

Abstract

Overexploitation is one of the main threats to biodiversity, but the intensity of this threat varies geographically. We identified global concentrations, on land and at sea, of 4543 species threatened by unsustainable commercial harvesting. Regions under high-intensity threat (based on accessibility on land and on fishing catch at sea) cover 4.3% of the land and 6.1% of the seas and contain 82% of all species threatened by unsustainable harvesting and >80% of the ranges of Critically Endangered species threatened by unsustainable harvesting. Currently, only 16% of these regions are covered by protected areas on land and just 6% at sea. Urgent actions are needed in these centers of unsustainable harvesting to ensure that use of species is sustainable and to prevent further species’ extinctions.

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