New Study: Inland Fisheries Make Substantial Contributions to Sustainable Development Goals

May 4, 2020

Inland Fisheries Can Support Human, Economic and Nature’s Wellbeing

Arlington, Va. (May 4, 2020) - A new study published today in the Nature Sustainability Journal finds that well-managed inland fisheries contribute substantially to increased food security, poverty alleviation, livelihoods, human well-being and ecosystem function and should be considered in global policies that aim to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Despite the crucial services sustainably managed inland fisheries provide, they are currently absent from the SDGs which could lead to their lack of consideration in strategic conservation solutions.

“Over 40 percent of global fish species are found in these freshwater ecosystems,” said Ian Harrison, a freshwater specialist for Conservation International and co-author of the paper.  “If left unprotected, the health of communities, millions of jobs, and nature will be at risk. These are critical services that inland fisheries can provide while at the same time moving global sustainability efforts forward.”

For many low-income, food-insecure populations, these ecosystems are critical sources of food. Over 40% of global inland fish capture is reported from 50 low-income, food-deficit countries and up to 58 million people are employed by the inland fisheries sector with women making up more than half of that workforce. Additionally, indirect revenue from recreational inland fisheries are valued at over $100 billion.

By examining the relationships between inland fish, sustainable fisheries, freshwater systems and the  SDGs, the researchers were able to highlight connections across the SDGs and how inclusion of these services, derived from inland fisheries, in policy recommendations can benefit the global community, particularly in the context of the following goals:

  • No Poverty (SDG 1);
  • Zero Hunger (SDG 2);
  • Clean Water and Sanitation (SDG 6);
  • Responsible Consumption and Production (SDG 12); and
  • Life on Land (SDG 15).

“The current SDGs can help to promote freshwater resources, but there is a tendency to focus specifically on human water security. This priority, while important, may be at the detriment of properly managing the habitat itself, rather than just the water resource flowing through it,” said Harrison

“To help the SDGs promote sustainability across the globe, for people and for nature, the value of the freshwater ecosystems must be elevated, as well. It’s our hope sustainable management practices can be applied to more inland fisheries to, ultimately, support the livelihoods of people and the planet,” said Abigail Lynch, lead author on the paper and research fish biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Climate Adaptation Science Center.

Approaches on how to address and implement SDGs will differ across countries due to development, climate, and population. However, the study uses a cluster analysis as a reference for integrated policies and development schemes that enhance the contribution of inland fish to sustainable planning, as well as to offer an approach to addressing the SDGs overall.

About Conservation International

Conservation International works to protect the critical benefits that nature provides to people. Through science, partnerships and fieldwork, Conservation International is driving innovation and investments in nature-based solutions to the climate crisis, supporting protections for critical habitats, and fostering economic development that is grounded in the conservation of nature.  We work in 30 countries around the world, empowering societies at all levels to create a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable planet. Follow Conservation International's work on Conservation NewsFacebookTwitter, Instagram and YouTube.