2/1/2014Print - Conservation Groups Launch Global Freshwater Fish BioBlitz, Inviting 'Citizen Scientists' to Help Monitor Fish Specieshttp://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2014/01/31/606524/10066486/en/Conservation-Groups-Launch-Global-Freshwater-Fish-BioBlitz-Inviting-Citizen-S…1/3
World Wildlife Fund January 31, 2014 15:08
Conservation Groups Launch Global Freshwater Fish BioBlitz,Inviting 'Citizen Scientists' to Help Monitor Fish Species
WASHINGTON, Jan. 31, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The 'Global Freshwater Fish BioBlitz' kicks off onWorld Wetlands Day to engage nature lovers in freshwater fish conservation. The Freshwater Fish SpecialistGroup (FFSG), of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Wetlands International, has joinedforces with other international groups, namely World Wildlife Fund, Conservation International, FishBase, theFisheries Society of the British Isles and the Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network, tointroduce this new global initiative. The BioBlitz project, designed by iNaturalist.org, will be hosted on the FFSGwebsite www.iucnffsg.org/bioblitz.People from around the world, whether they are anglers, photographers, students or nature lovers, are invited toupload photographs of freshwater fishes observed in their natural habitat, with details of where and when theysaw the fish. Volunteers with expertise in fish taxonomy will serve as curators to identify and verify the species toensure the data is research-grade. The information has the potential to assist scientists to describe new species,help assess the risk of extinction for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, can track the spread of invasivespecies and can be exported to freely accessible online data archives, such as Encyclopedia of Life.The launch of the project also highlights the importance of freshwater fish for the protection of internationallyimportant habitats. "More than three-quarters of Ramsar's Wetlands of International Importance, or Ramsar Sites, are entirely or partly freshwater sites, and, of those, over 30 percent became Ramsar Sites because of their important fish species" said Christopher Briggs, Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands."The more data we have on the species present in our wetlands, the better we can manage them. The Freshwater Fish BioBlitz will provide a wealth of essential information for managing our wetlands and their fish species."Projects like this are needed as Will Turner, Senior Vice President for the Moore Center for Science andOceans at Conservation International, explains "Freshwater fishes may be the most endangered group of vertebrates, with a third of all species threatened with extinction due to overfishing, pollution, habitat loss andfragmentation, alien invasive species and climate change.""The BioBlitz is our way of bringing the power of crowdsourcing to freshwater fish conservation," said MicheleThieme, senior freshwater conservation scientist at World Wildlife Fund. "Wildlife monitoring is vital toconservation, since we can't protect species unless we know where they live and what threats they might befacing. Engaging the public all over the world will help us identify more species in more places than we possiblycould alone."