Conserving freshwater fish for people and planet

Despite occupying less than 1% of the Earth's surface area, freshwater habitats are exceptionally biodiverse, hosting an incredible 51% of all known fish species.

Southeast Asia is a particular hotspot for freshwater biodiversity and is home to a staggering 30% of global freshwater fish species. Many are facing many threats and numbers are reducing at an alarming rate.

People's health and livelihoods are deeply entwined with freshwater environments, and for the benefit of all people across Southeast Asia, it is essential to protect and restore freshwater fishes and their habitats.

Their economic value is immense, with more than 200 million people relying on freshwater fish for sustenance and at least 60 million as their primary source of income.


Securing a future for freshwater fish in Southeast Asia

The good news is that we know what needs to be done. We have been working with Shoal and Mandai Nature to create a practical framework that conservationists, policy makers and researchers can use to develop programmes, implement strategies and fill knowledge gaps.

The document includes a set of urgent priorities that, when actioned, will facilitate the recovery of freshwater fish populations. The recommendations include:

  • addressing issues around trade and fisheries
  • conducting field surveys and research
  • establishing ex situ breeding programmes
  • implementing solutions to combat invasive species

"This framework provides the direction and clarity required to focus and catalyse action to bring them back from the brink.”

Mike Baltzer, Executive Director, SHOAL

Scaling up funding for freshwater fish conservation

To celebrate the framework, we are partnering with SHOAL to launch the SHOAL-ASAP Freshwater Fish Conservation Grant. We recognise that freshwater biodiversity is often overlooked and underfunded, and are working hard to address this. The new grant provides essential funds to implement the recommendations made in the framework, and is available now for ASAP Partners to make a tangible impact for Critically Endangered freshwater fish in Southeast Asia.

Donors interested in helping to make a difference should CONTACT US to discuss opportunities.

Why freshwater fish need as much or more attention than rhinos

Nerissa Chao, of ASAP Director, Mike Baltzer from Shoal and Nathaniel Ng from Mandai Nature, spoke to Veronika Perková on the Nature Solutionaries podcast, "Why freshwater fish need as much or more attention than rhinos". In the interview, they talk about the importance of freshwater fish, issues and challenges surrounding their conservation, and how governments, hobbyists and communities living near freshwater habitats can help to save these species from the brink of extinction.