Seahorse in bycatch from Mexican shrimp trawler. Photo by Sarah Foster / Project Seahorse

Threats to Seahorses

Seahorse numbers have declined primarily because of egregious non-selective fishing, as well as intense targeted fishing.

They are heavily traded but generally it is non-selective fishing – and not demand for seahorses per se – that drives depletion. Many populations, particularly those in estuaries, are also suffering from habitat loss and degradation (e.g. destruction, sedimentation, eutrophication, pollution) as well as invasive species and climate change. However, fisheries are definitely the biggest pressure on seahorses as a genus, as on other marine life.

 70 million

Estimated number of seahorses
caught per year


Estimated number of countries involved in the international trade in seahorses

[Updated 23 March 2021]