The Biodiversity of Fish Species in Spain


The Blue Shark

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Ecological Impacts in Spain

Spanish Fishing Industry

The biodiversity of fish species found around and within the waters of Spain provide the country its distinct culture.  Spain’s culture thrives on fish biodiversity for the fishing and aquaculture industry, as well as food and their economy.  Spain’s geography provides easy access to both marine and freshwater fish species.

Marine Fish Species

Spain’s coasts border a number of different large bodies of marine water.  These include the Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, and Balearic Sea.  The current number of identified marine fish species exceeds 500.  Each major body of marine water has its own biodiversity of fish.  Some of the major marine fish species include, but are not limited to; sharks (blue shark), eels (European eel), mullets (Leaping mullet), and rays (cuckoo ray).  Many of these fish species are either commercially fished for consumption or sport fished.

Freshwater Fish Species

The topography of Spain is formed from the many freshwater bodies that run through it.  These freshwater systems are full of a diverse mix of sea life.  The number of identified freshwater species exceeds 100.  These species include, but are not limited to; carp (crucian carp), shad (allis and twait shad), and lamprey (sea lamprey).  Although many of the fish are native to Spain, including the ones listed above, some have been introduced through a number of means.  A large number of the freshwater species are commercially fished and have an impact on Spain’s economy.

Invasive Fish Species

The diversity of fish found in both marine and freshwater ecosystems of Spain can be attributed to a large number of introduced, or invasive, species.  Certain species have been intentionally introduced and others have been accidentally introduced.  Some of the more recent invasive species include the pike perch, the sunfish, and the mosquitofish.  The mosquitofish is an important example of an intentionally introduced species.  The mosquitofish was first introduced in Spain during the 1920’s to combat malaria.  This species played a major role in the eradication of the disease, and has become the most widespread freshwater species.

The invasive species of Spain are becoming a problem for the native species.  Many invasive species are out-competing the native fish for resources and space.  This is altering the ecosystems of the native fish, creating a decrease in population and species numbers.