Current Priorities and Future Directions

Gulf of Mexico
The presence of threatened species on the US Endangered Species Act is often used to define conservation priorities and conduct risk assessments in the Gulf of Mexico.  However, currently only 14 Gulf species are afforded federal protection, while at least 53 are currently considered threatened on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (Campagna et al. 2011). Therefore, the identification of conservation priorities in the Gulf is largely conducted in the absence of comprehensive species information (read more). The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) has funded the completion of regional IUCN Red List assessments for all bony shorefishes of the Gulf of Mexico, which are anticipated to be released in November 2015.

Eastern Central Atlantic
The MAVA Foundation has funded the completion of IIUCN Red List Assessments for all marine fishes present in West Africa. With the completion of these key species assessments, results will be used to publish an IUCN Regional Report on the Marine Resources of West Africa, and to complete the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Fisheries Identification Guide for the West Africa region. IUCN Red List Assessments and project outcomes will be developed and completed in collaboration with regional scientists and institutions, including the IUCN Regional Office in Mauritania. Assessments are anticipated to be released in November 2015.

Marine Fishes in the Exclusive Economic Zone of the European Union
In collaboration with the IUCN European Office in Brussels, the Global Marine Species Assessment (GMSA) is part of a large proposal recently accepted by the European Union to fund Red List Assessments for a number of taxa. The GMSA will lead the initiative to conduct regional Red List assessments for all marine fishes present in the Exclusive Economic Zone of the European Union.

Fishes of the Arabian Gulf
Negotiations are currently taking place with a number of research institutions and organizations in the Arabian Sea region to conduct workshops for the successful completion of assessments for all marine fishes in the Red Sea, Arabian Gulf, and Gulf of Oman. The Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) has funded the completion of regional assessments for all bony fishes in the Persian/Arabian Gulf, which are anticipated to be released in November 2015.

Identifying Key Biodiversity Areas
The GMSA has also been invited to participate in an initiative to develop technical criteria and consolidated standards for the identification of sites of global biodiversity conservation significance, or marine Key Biodiversity Areas. This much-needed methodology is being led by the IUCN WCPA/SSC Joint Task Force, and will serve conservation planning agencies around the world. A recent effort to develop Important Marine Mammal Area criteria was published in 2015 (publication); additional work on this initiative is continuing.