Two Tilapia fishes in hands of fisherman, Ecuador.

Transforming wild fisheries and fish farming

The ocean can provide food for billions — but only if we take care of it

© Kseniya Ragozina

3 billion people

(3 out of 7) people rely on seafood as their primary source of animal protein

260 million people

Nearly 4% of the world’s population – mostly in the developing world – rely directly on fisheries for their livelihoods

50% of seafood

Half of the world’s seafood is produced by aquaculture

One-third of the world’s wild-caught fisheries are depleted because of overfishing, pollution and the effects of climate change. In some places, stocks have declined or collapsed due to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing — hitting the coastal communities that rely​ on seafood for food and income the hardest.

As fish populations have dwindled, the aquaculture — or fish farming — sector now accounts for more than half of worldwide seafood production. Yet some aquaculture practices have degraded coastal ecosystems, polluting the oceans with waste and destroying critical habitats.

Conservation International is addressing these issues from ocean to plate, helping to sustainably improve food security and livelihoods for the billions of people who need fisheries to survive.

The challenge

Demand for seafood is rising due to population growth, rising affluence and globalization. New technologies have enhanced our ability to pull more fish from the oceans, while pollution and habitat degradation are depleting or sickening the fish populations that remain.

The vision

Conservation International protects biodiversity and improves the wellbeing of ocean-dependent communities by implementing sustainable fisheries and aquaculture solutions built on partnerships and investments from ocean to plate.

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Our approach

Fishing in Chiapas, Mexico.
© Jessica Scranton

No fishery has the same set of challenges, so Conservation International creates tools and partnerships to identify and address the unique ecological, social and economic needs and barriers for each fishery in which we work. We focus on coastal fisheries across nine countries to help ocean-dependent communities create the sustainable fisheries and aquaculture that they need to thrive.

How we do it

Conservation International deploys its scientific expertise to tackle critical issues surrounding sustainable fisheries management, ecosystem health and biodiversity conservation. We also work to promote social responsibility in fisheries and aquaculture by developing best practices for seafood sourcing and reducing uncertainty in the private sector.

Bluefin tuna in net
© Gary Stokes

Resilient fisheries

Our goal is to enhance human well-being while reducing the adverse impacts of fishing on the environment. In the Pacific, we work with partners to improve local food security and management of tuna, using innovations in technology and harvesting methods as well as regional monitoring and surveillance. In small-scale fisheries we implement governance reform and market-based solutions, providing the tools, incentives and financing to help transition fisheries from overexploitation to sustainability.

Conservation International’s fisheries projects around the world:

Shrimp farming
© Keith A. Ellenbogen

Sustainable aquaculture

Conservation International’s aquaculture program aims to transform farmed seafood, focusing on demonstrating sustainable fish farming in selected areas. Our work emphasizes sustainable, low-impact, high-productivity aquaculture; restoring overexploited and endangered aquatic species and no net loss of coastal ecosystems; and transforming markets and supply chains to increase demand for sustainably farmed products.

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From the blog


Our Experts


  • Expertise
  • Language
  • Location

Mark Erdmann, Ph.D.

Vice President, Marine, Asia-Pacific Field Division

Dr. Mark Erdmann’s work largely focuses on the management of marine protected areas, as well as research on reef fish and mantis shrimp biodiversity, satellite tracking of endangered sharks and rays, and genetic connectivity in MPA networks.

Scott Henderson

Vice President, Marine & Lead for Sustainable Landscapes and Seascapes, Field Delivery

Scott Henderson is a conservation and marine management practitioner with field experience as a researcher and consultant, primarily in Latin America. Scott founded the Eastern Tropical Pacific Seascape program and is responsible for developing multi-country marine strategies and building awareness of marine conservation issues.

John N. (“Jack”) Kittinger, Ph.D.

Senior Director, Blue Production Program, Center for Oceans

As the senior director of the Blue Production Program in Conservation International's Center for Oceans, Dr. Kittinger works to ensure a healthy ocean provides benefits to coastal communities.

Marco Quesada, Ph.D.

Director, Conservation International-Costa Rica

Dr. Marco Quesada Alpizar specializes in marine conservation, marine policy, and fisheries policy and management. Marco has been involved in the creation of Costa Rica’s largest marine protected area through the Costa Rica program, as well as designing and implementing policies for Costa Rica’s National Maritime Enforcement Strategy.

Guilherme Dutra

Director, Marine Program, Conservation International-Brazil

Guilherme Dutra leads a series of initiatives to support the implementation and expansion of the Marine Protected Areas network in the Abrolhos region and other parts of Brazil. Dutra has coordinated efforts to increase the knowledge and recognition of the importance the Abrolhos coral reefs, as well as developing management solutions that influence marine conservation in the country.

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