Investments aligned with this Strategic Goal aim to protect, restore, and increase biodiversity in aquatic habitats by implementing conservation practices associated with sustainable salt- and freshwater aquaculture and fisheries.

The sections below include an overview of the approach for achieving desired goals, supporting evidence, core metrics that help measure performance toward goals, and a curated list of resources to support collecting, reporting on, and using data for decision-making.


Dimensions of Impact: WHAT

Investors interested in deploying this strategy should consider the scale of the addressable problem, what positive outcomes might be, and how important the change would be to the people (or planet) experiencing it.

Key questions in this dimension include:

What problem does the investment aim to address? For the target stakeholders experiencing the problem, how important is this change?

Human action has led to the worldwide deterioration of nature and its vital contributions to human society, including biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services. Supply chains, economies, and livelihoods worldwide already face adverse impacts from degrading biodiversity, even as global population growth and current consumption patterns increase the pressure on ecosystem services (1).

Habitat destruction and fragmentation due to fishery and aquacultural practices have driven considerable biodiversity loss in marine and freshwater ecosystems (2). Unsustainable fishing methods, such as towed bottom fishing gear, explosives, and poison, physically alter marine habitats to the detriment of many vulnerable aquatic species; effects on one species can have far-reaching impacts on trophic interactions and entire ecosystems (3,4). For example, the removal of habitat affecting one specific species may, for example, remove a food source for another species, breaking a link in the chain and leaving whole aquatic and even terrestrial ecosystems susceptible to collapse, with further implications for human society. Overexploitation of fisheries has the largest relative impact on oceans, especially since unsustainable fishing practices–such as towed bottom fishing gears, explosives, and poison–can be non-selective, removing large numbers of non-target species (such as turtles) from ecosystems (5,6). The capture of both target and non-target species by abandoned and lost fishing equipment, known as ghost fishing, is an important source of pollution; 640,000 tons of such fishing gear enter oceans each year (7).

Although freshwater systems such as rivers, lakes, and swamps cover just 1% of the Earth’s surface, they are home to 10% of all species. Over-exploitation of freshwater ecosystem services, introduction of alien species, and the disappearance of freshwater habitat connectivity damages these habitats, resulting in species loss. Freshwater vertebrate species are disappearing at more than twice the rate of those on land and in the ocean, and freshwater megafauna populations (animals weighing more than 30 kilograms) decreased by 88% between 1970 and 2012 (8). About a third of freshwater fish species are in danger of extinction, and 80 species are already extinct. Populations of migratory fish species have declined by 76% since 1970. Yet this urgent freshwater biodiversity problem remains an afterthought for many stakeholders and policymakers (9).

Aquaculture, particularly fish farming, is often seen as a solution to overfishing by replacing wild-caught seafood, but the reality is more nuanced. Aquaculture comes in three types: inland, coastal, and marine. Inland or freshwater aquaculture, the largest source of farmed aquatic animal species (62.5% of global farmed fish production), takes place in freshwater contained in, for example, ponds, tanks, and rice fields. Coastal aquaculture takes place in (partially) man-made infrastructure, such as closed lagoons of salt or brackish water. Finally, marine aquaculture or mariculture takes place in the sea (10). All three types of aquaculture can destroy habitat, pollute water and the seabed with uneaten food and fish feces, raise conflict with predators, deplete wild fish stocks if used to produce fishmeal and fish oil for feed, unintentionally release invasive species, spread antibiotic resistance, and change wild fish genetics and health (11,12,13).

Freshwater aquaculture includes a wide range of production methods, ranging from extensive (i.e., pond farming) to highly technological intensive methods. While extensive methods provide socio-economic services to local communities, maintain areas of environmental importance, and conserve traditions and cultural heritage of producing and consuming fish, innovative intensive methods (such as energy-efficient recirculating aquaculture systems) yield higher production while managing environmental impacts. The future growth of freshwater aquaculture will require sustainable increases in production through tailored and innovative solutions such as energy-efficient recirculating aquaculture systems, integrated and multitrophic aquaculture, and the cultivation of different species (14).

Unchecked or unsustainable growth in the aquaculture sector can lead to overproduction (15). Subsidies can artificially boost production, leading to irreversible damage to local ecosystems. A 28% reduction in mangrove cover between 1980 and 2002 in Southeast Asia to make way for commercial shrimp farming contributed to the loss of natural protection against erosion, tsunamis and, cyclones in coastal communities (16). During the 2004 South Asian Tsunami disaster, coastal areas still covered by the naturally defensive mangroves were relatively less affected (17). In addition to their vital role in coastal protection, mangrove forests comprise vital nursery areas and habitats for commercially valuable fish and shellfish species. Unchecked aquaculture can destroy mangrove forests, acidify or salinize soil, pollute water, and change hydrological patterns, among other negative effects.

Long-term investments are needed to transition to more sustainable fish production and avoid the significant human and economic costs of damage to aquatic ecosystems (18). Given past and ongoing rapid declines, most international societal and environmental goals for marine biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services are under threat. The Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the marine biodiversity goals in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will not be achieved on current trajectories, which will undermine other goals, such as those specified in the Paris Agreement on climate change and the 2050 Vision for Biodiversity (19). A broad mix of measures and investments in coastal states and buy-in from industry will be needed to safeguard and restore the quality of our marine ecosystems, their biodiversity, and our collective livelihoods.

Investments aligned with this Strategic Goal can:

  • treat effluent wastewater from aquaculture (20);
  • support technological innovations around disease control, feed, breeding, and more to create low-impact production systems and limit farming to low-trophic species (21);
  • install information technologies to enable global-level monitoring and planning of sustainable aquaculture (22);
  • implement international or stricter standards for the capture or production, distribution, processing, and consumption of seafood, noting that existing and recognized certification standards like Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) do not guarantee sustainably caught fish (23,24);
  • produce feed for aquaculture projects that use plant-based, sustainably harvested ingredients in place of high-demand fish meal and oil derived from capture fisheries;
  • set up public-private partnerships to incorporate selective breeding, disease control, and farm management to reduce the amount of land, freshwater, and feed used for a given unit of production (25),
  • support or develop innovative integrated agriculture-aquaculture approaches that can improve production stability, use resources more efficiently, and conserve biodiversity (26);
  • help transfer knowledge on best or sustainable practices to local communities; and
  • reduce pressures on fish stocks by investing in alternative protein sources which are sustainably cultivated, harvested, and processed.

What is the scale of the problem?

Fisheries and aquaculture are a major source of nutrition for about one billion people and provide income to millions, especially in developing countries (27,28). In 2018, global fish production had an estimated value of USD 401 billion, of which USD 250 billion was aquaculture (29). With world population expected to exceed 9 billion people by 2050, sustainable fisheries and aquaculture will be essential to fight hunger and poverty in a resource-constrained world (30,31).

Unfortunately, USD 50 billion in fishery value is lost each year from inefficiencies and illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing (32). Globally, 90% of fish stocks are overexploited, so experts recommend halving exploitation volumes (33). Most fisheries and aquaculture are small-scale and in developing countries where the situation is deteriorating, with three times higher harvest rates, for example, than in developed countries that have improved their management of fisheries (34). Valuable ecosystems like mangrove forests are replaced by unsustainable shrimp farms that often last only a few years before disease leads to their abandonment and decline into unproductive landscapes (35). Chasing short-term profit in this way has long-term ecological consequences for biodiversity, local communities, and fishery productivity. Estimated investments of USD 200 billion will be needed to enable the global transition to sustainable fisheries (36).


Dimensions of Impact: WHO

Investors interested in deploying this strategy should consider whom they want to target, as almost every strategy has a host of potential beneficiaries. While some investors may target women of color living in a particular rural area, others may set targets more broadly, e.g., women. Investors interested in targeting particular populations should focus on strategies that have been shown to benefit those populations.

Key questions in this dimension include:

Who (people, planet, or both) is helped through investments aligned with this Strategic Goal?

Though investments aligned with this Strategic Goal could positively affect people and planet quite broadly, specific target stakeholders include the following.

  • Flora and fauna: Different flora and fauna fulfill different functions within aquatic ecosystems, ensuring their optimal performance. Overfishing is the main factor underlying the decline of marine biodiversity, whereas environmental factors like pollution, dams, and loss of floodplains are the most important drivers of deteriorating freshwater ecosystem health (37). Although the capture of flagship species is regulated, licenses for fishing (critically) endangered species are still issued by the International Game Fishing Association (38). In Europe, important wild freshwater fish species face threats from humans in seas, rivers, and lakes (39). Sensitive marine habitats that sustain rich biodiversity, such as deep-sea coral reefs, and endangered species like whales, turtles, and dolphins should be prioritized for protection (40). Protecting species that form the foundation of marine ecosystems, including seaweed, seagrasses, oysters, and corals, directly increases ecosystem services, including seafood production. Investments in sustainable aquaculture can contribute both directly (by producing and releasing juveniles to restore depleted or endangered wild stocks) and indirectly (by responding to seafood demand without overexploiting natural resources) to preserving some fish populations (41).
  • Protected areas and beyond: Protected areas preserve existing biodiversity by controlling or eliminating human impacts on salt- and freshwater habitats. The current global protected area network contains just 16% of terrestrial habitat and 7.4% of global oceans and receives just USD 24.3 billion annually, roughly one-third of what is needed for effective management (42). Closing these critical funding shortfalls will be required to effectively increase and manage the global protected areas network and address international goals for biodiversity protection.
  • Climate: Oceans store nearly 25% of human carbon emissions; this ‘blue’ carbon is key to mitigating climate change (42). Like coastal wetlands, non-tidal freshwater wetlands can regulate greenhouse gases (43). Destructive fishing techniques and overfishing disrupt marine and freshwater ecosystems, reducing their climate-regulating properties. More biodiverse marine ecosystems are better at sequestering carbon and thus mitigating climate change (44).
  • Local communities and businesses. Fisheries and aquaculture create significant employment in various sectors like fishing and transportation, especially in developing countries (45). In Europe, employment related to freshwater aquaculture is mostly located in rural regions with limited economic opportunities and therefore has high social impact (46). About 60 million people, 14% of them women, are engaged in the primary sector of fisheries and aquaculture (47). For the inland fishery sector, women represent more than half the labor force (48). Better management of where and how "closed-source" aquaculture is planned and executed can preserve the environmental viability and accessibility of "open-source" wild fishery for those low-income communities that depend on it for food and income. Coral reefs offer particularly important economic functions to communities by providing fish nurseries, offering protection from hurricanes or cyclones, and attracting tourists. For local communities and businesses, the short-term benefits of unsustainable aquaculture do not outweigh the long-term benefits of restoring and conserving ecosystems and biodiversity.

What are the geographic attributes of those who are affected?

Threats to marine biodiversity are geographically heterogeneous and vary substantially with taxonomy (49). A comprehensive analysis at the University of California, Santa Barbara found that just 0.1% of the ocean truly stood at least concern for extinction, while 83% of the world’s oceans have at least a quarter of resident species threatened. The Mediterranean and Black Seas faced the greatest threats to biodiversity, while Asia and North America are well-protected in highly impacted areas. Countries in Asia and North America may therefore offer opportunities to maintain the health of less-degraded areas at relatively low cost (50).

In terms of specific habitats, coral reefs are most threatened in Indonesia and the Philippines, while 80% of mangrove degradation takes place in Southeast Asia (51,52).

Human population is growing fastest in Africa, and incomes are rising most rapidly in Asia; most additional future demand for fish will come from low- and middle-income consumers in these regions (53). Fisheries in Spain, Portugal, and the United States capture the highest number of endangered species on average, but not every country shares the relevant data. Aquacultural fish production occurs worldwide, with production doubling in Africa and Asia compared to two decades ago; employment in the sector by geography is proportional to total population. In countries with poverty and food shortages, fish consumption rose by 1.5% per capita between 1961 and 2017. In contrast, consumption decreased between 2007 and 2017 in developed countries (54). Wild freshwater fisheries are mainly in Asia (two-thirds of global catch) and Africa (25%). Seven rivers comprise half of the global freshwater fishery: the Mekong, Nile, Irrawaddy, Yangtze, Brahmaputra, Amazon, and Ganges (55).


Dimensions of Impact: CONTRIBUTION

Investors considering investing in a company or portfolio aligned with this strategy should consider whether the effect they want to have compares to what is likely to happen anyway. Is the investment's contribution ‘likely better’ or ‘likely worse’ than what is likely to occur anyway across What, How much and Who?

Key questions in this dimension include:

How can investments in line with this Strategic Goal contribute to outcomes, and are these investments’ effects likely better, worse, or neutral than what would happen otherwise

Organizations can consider contribution at two levels—enterprise and investor. At the enterprise level, contribution is “the extent to which the enterprise contributed to an outcome by considering what would have otherwise happened in absence of their activities (i.e., a counterfactual scenario).” To learn more about methods for assessing counterfactuals, see the Impact Management Project.

Investor contribution can be described those factors that investors have influence over that can proactively and positively influence proportional social and environmental outcomes. Investors can contribute toward addressing the larger issues of the degradation of the marine ecosystem health as follows:

  • Signal that impact matters by investing in projects that prioritize the health of salt- and freshwater ecosystems and ocean- and riverbeds, by building networks and interest in the sector, and by demonstrating commitment to addressing environmental problems through biodiversity conservation. Projects engaging actively in the field of biodiversity and sustainability can serve as illustrative case studies, offering starting points to set industry trends and standards.
  • Engage actively in the development, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation stages of investments by providing technical assistance in conservation and restoration planning. Investors can support the research and development of new, sustainable fishing and aquaculture technologies to move away from business-as-usual scenarios towards biodiversity-positive practice. Importantly, investor engagement should not cover just those aspects of performance and policies relevant to investees’ own operations. Biodiversity impacts are highly contextual, defined mostly by the local vulnerability of ecosystems and the cumulative impacts of different stakeholders. For example, more sustainable freshwater fishery activities will only contribute to healthy stocks of migratory fish if those fish can migrate along the river without obstacles. As such, investors should mobilize alignment between project developers or companies and integrated approaches to managing aquatic biodiversity. Recently, listed equity investors have begun to explore a platform for standardized collective shareholder engagement specifically on nature and biodiversity (70).
  • Grow new and undersupplied capital markets, for example by investing in previously overlooked opportunities in sustainable fisheries, aquaculture, and the restoration of aquatic ecosystems. New technologies that rely on data aggregation and analytics, including Big Data and Artificial Intelligence, can be applied across the aquacultural value chain. Investments in vaccines and diagnostics to maintain cultivated species’ health will also be crucial to both the sustainability and profitability of aquaculture. Insurance products, such as risk pools, can be used to hedge against the risk of financial losses that may result from damages to the insured party from environmental loss or disaster (for example, degraded coral reefs and coastal flooding). Insurance products have only recently begun to extend to natural ecosystems, such as coral reefs and mangroves (71). Trusts can be established to pay the insurance premiums against flood risk and to fund the restoration of rivers, improving water infiltration, transport, and fish migration.
  • Provide flexible capital. Biodiversity and ecosystem services are public goods whose true value is not reflected in economic transactions. Policy frameworks and voluntary markets are still developing. Therefore, "blended finance" is needed that leverages capital from public institutions or philanthropy to crowd in private capital. Many business models in biodiversity remain early stage, making it difficult to attract a broad range of investors to scale up (72). By providing flexible capital through blended finance vehicles and other products to communities and businesses who work with stakeholders in sustainable aquaculture and fisheries, investors can contribute to ecosystem or environmental health. Long-term investments can support the research and development of new, sustainable fishing and aquaculture technologies, as well as tools that allow entrepreneurs to accelerate impact. Investment funds, such as the Sustainable Ocean Fund, can support fisheries and aquaculture in emerging markets and island nations. Guarantees can reduce the risk of nonpayment for fund investors (73). To minimize negative impacts, investments should promote models that offer substantial improvements from business-as-usual and demonstrate that aquaculture and fisheries can be both financially viable and environmentally sustainable over the long term (74).

How Much

Dimensions of Impact: HOW MUCH

Investors deploying capital into investments aligned with this strategy should think about how significant the investment's effect might be. What is likely to be the change's breadth, depth, and duration?

Key questions in this dimension include:

How many target stakeholders can experience the outcome through investments aligned with this Strategic Goal?

Sustainable fishing and aquaculture creates wealth and high-quality employment, including fair remuneration for fishers and aquaculturists (56). Sustainable fishing adapts to the reproductive rate of fish species to maintain balance and ensure the survival of all species while rejecting the indiscriminate capture of fry and endangered species. Active fishery management and regular observation of fish stocks contribute to their recovery (57).

Sustainable fishery and aquaculture practices will maintain or restore healthy and functioning ecosystems, benefiting billions of animals and plants from marine species, as well as humans. Nature provides human existence, quality of life, and culture with food, feed, energy, medicines, and genetic resources (58). In total, goods and services from the ocean amount to USD 2.5 trillion per year in the form of fishing, transportation, energy, tourism, and more, a significant portion of gross world product (59,60).

Existing losses from irresponsible management of aquatic ecosystems include 20% of the world’s coral reefs and 20% of the world’s mangroves; 33% of marine mammals are threatened and 66% of the ocean experiences cumulative human pressures (61,62).

Coral reefs and mangroves have several specific benefits for stakeholders. Coral reefs are habitat and nurseries for sea life. They also protect coastal communities from flooding, storm damage, and erosion. In the same way, they enable the growth of mangroves and seagrass communities. With a capital value estimated at USD 50,000 per hectare, coral reefs add cultural and economic value, providing fisheries, medicines, recreation, and tourism. Reefs are an important source of employment and revenue for local communities (63,64). Mangroves, meanwhile, absorb up to four times more carbon dioxide than terrestrial forests and provide food, coastal protection, timber, and breeding areas for wildlife. In addition, two to five hectares of mangroves can filter effluents from one hectare of aquaculture (65,66).

How much change can target stakeholders experience through investments aligned with this Strategic Goal?

The extent of change that results from investments aligned with this Strategic Goal will depend on the size, scope, and attributes of the biodiversity affected, as well as the presence of any co-benefits from environmental rehabilitation and the investment’s length and stability. In general, however, McKinsey estimates that increasing the coverage of global protected area by 30%—for instance, by integrating measures to create or safeguard protected areas in investments—would grow or sustain conservation management, ecotourism, and sustainable fishing by USD 300–500 billion and create 30 million jobs, in addition to reducing up to 5% of global CO2 emissions (67).

There is a tremendous opportunity worldwide to return the seas to abundance and create positive social outcomes. With sustainable management, more than three-quarters of the world’s fisheries could recover within a decade (68). Compared to business-as-usual, we could double the number of fish, safely increase catch enough to feed an additional half billion people, and increase annual revenue to fishermen and fishing communities by more than USD 50 billion (69).


Dimensions of Impact: RISK

Key questions in this dimension include:

What impact risks do investments aligned with this Strategic Goal run? How can investments mitigate them?

The following are several impact risk factors for investments to increase the use of sustainable practices in fisheries and aquaculture:

  • External Risk: When evaluating an investment, investors should factor in climate risks, such as extreme weather events like hurricanes and coastal flooding that can degrade coral reefs; environmental risks related to the insufficient coverage of the main drivers of ecosystem degradation; and social risks related to insufficient consultation of local coastal stakeholders, such as indigenous people and fishermen. Depletion of fish stocks present a critical risk to investees that do not abide by minimum, fishery-specific standards designed to avoid long-term harm to target or by-catch species, such as those implemented by the Meloy Fund (75). Climate risk is most effectively mitigated through climate-scenario analysis at the project level and through climate-adaptation measures (such as coastal protection) in restoration investments. Mitigating environmental risk starts with a deep understanding of the drivers of marine biodiversity loss that might affect a certain project or investment and a plan to reduce or minimize these drivers. Overall, investors can apply an Environmental and Social Safeguards (or Standards), or ESS approach to substantially reduce environmental and social risks. Development institutions, international treaties, and agencies use ESS, a set of policies, standards, and operational procedures, to first identify and then to avoid, mitigate, and minimize adverse environmental and social impacts. The World Bank’s ESS Section 1 covers assessment and management of environmental and social risks (76).
  • Evidence Risk: Notwithstanding progress made in measuring and monitoring climate risks and benefits, collecting biodiversity data is complex and challenging. For example, there is no single, high-level policy goal for biodiversity conservation akin to the 1.5°C warming ceiling established by the Paris Agreement. Conserving biodiversity is a much more complex financial problem than climate change, in part because it greatly depends on local factors, despite having global implications. Data are limited on the complex relationship between aquaculture (or fisheries) and biodiversity as mediated through companies’ operations and supply chains. Furthermore, there is no clear taxonomy of biodiversity investments and definitions, nor are there widely accepted risk assessment and reporting frameworks (77). Investors can minimize this risk by implementing formalized and standardized monitoring, reporting, and evidence-collection procedures. At the same time, investors should (albeit with caution) embrace innovative measurement approaches. Interesting work related to the standardization of data and measurement approaches is available from the European Business & Biodiversity Platform’s workstream on methods (i.e., the Biodiversity Measurement Navigation Wheel); the Platform for Biodiversity Accounting Financials (PBAF), which is working towards a standard for assessing biodiversity impact and dependency; and the Align project (aligning accounting approaches for nature), which is developing a standardized approach to biodiversity measurement and closely cooperates with PBAF. However, these and other approaches to biodiversity measurement for businesses or financial institutions have not been tailored for the fish and aquaculture sectors. Finally, the enforcement of regulatory policies (both existing and those to come) that address the mismanagement of fish stocks and risks to biodiversity in financial decisions must be underpinned by a global, evidence-based reporting and assessment mechanism, such as the Regular Process for Reporting and Assessment of the Marine Environment. But the scientific monitoring needed for this and other mechanisms to operate remains poorly funded, especially in developing countries (78).
  • Stakeholder Participation Risk: Investments face risks if they lack the support of both local communities and governments. Ecosystem-related projects risk lack of community support or participation if local stakeholders are not brought into the design and implementation of the project at an early stage. By engaging these stakeholders, investors can mitigate this risk. In terms of engagement with governments, investors should ensure that the invested region has strong regulation and enforcement of environmental protection laws, such as fishing quotas.
  • Unexpected Impact Risk: Local coastal communities and Indigenous peoples are often both most vulnerable to the consequences of unsustainable fisheries and aquaculture and also critical potential partners in protecting aquatic biodiversity. Due consideration of the rights, cultural practices, and ideas of Indigenous peoples and local communities should be part of any biodiversity-related effort. Investors should align their investment criteria with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Illustrative Investment

The Meloy Fund, a private-sector initiative managed by Deliberate Capital LLC and the global conservation organization Rare, aspires to stop unsustainable fishing practices through Rare’s Fish Forever global fisheries recovery program. The fund’s budget of more than USD 17 million supports growing enterprises that are committed to marine ecosystems and coastal communities. The fund aims to improve the management of 1.2 million hectares of coastal habitat and improve the lives of 100,000 families involved in fishing. For instance, the Meloy Fund provides capital to PT SIG Asia, a tuna processing and exporting company that sources from local fishermen, to improve its operations, unlock new markets, and implement a seafood traceability system. The investment has supported PT SIG Asia to implement environmental, social, and governance (ESG)-compliant practices and grow its market share, as well as improving its sustainable fishery management, helping to guarantee food safety and economic security for local communities and safeguard marine ecosystems.

Water Funds is a continuous partnership among The Nature Conservancy, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Global Environment Facility, and FEMSA Foundation launched in 2011. FEMSA has provided USD 5 million over five years to finance the restoration and protection of watershed ecosystems in countries such as Colombia. In total, Water Funds has raised more than USD 22 million from investors including Bloomberg Philanthropies and JPMorgan Chase. In Bogotá, its Water Fund will help conserve tropical Andean forests that provide clean drinking water to eight million people. Safeguarding the forests and their ecosystem services will save Bogotá’s water treatment facility up to USD 4 million each year. In total, 32 water funds now support more than seven million acres of watershed ecosystems, protecting drinkable water for nearly 40 million people.

The Mekong Delta Integrated Rice and Aquaculture Bankable Project is a Bankable Nature Solution catalyzed by WWF in collaboration with the Dutch Fund for Climate and Development. A pilot project launched in December 2020 will convert up to 50 hectares of rice paddies into aquaculture ponds, where rice and shrimp will be produced in an alternating fashion under international standards, with shrimp production certified under the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC). Mixed farming (both rice and shrimp farming) will take place during the freshwater season (rice and shrimp farming), while only shrimp farming will take place during the brackish water season. This shift creates multiple positive effects – it reduces fertilizer, pesticide, and antibiotic use (improving water quality and soil health), reduces GHG emissions, increases and stabilizes income for farmers, and reduces groundwater extraction. The short supply chain also means that fewer resources will go to middlemen, multiplying farmer income by an expected 3.5 times and providing proof-of-concept for a scalable investment that could cover up to 200,000 hectares across the Mekong Delta.

Draw on Evidence

This mapped evidence shows what outcomes and impacts this strategy can have, based on academic and field research.

Historical overfishing and the recent collapse of coastal ecosystems 

Jackson, Jeremy B. C., Michael X. Kirby, Wolfgang H. Berger, Karen A. Bjorndal, Louis W. Botsford, Bruce J. Bourque, Roger H. Bradbury, et al. 2001. “Historical Overfishing and the Recent Collapse of Coastal Ecosystems.” Science 293: 629-637. doi:DOI: 10.1126/science.1059199.

Global fishery prospects under contrasting management regimes 

Christopher Costello, Daniel Ovando, Tyler Clavelle, C. Kent Strauss, Ray Hilborn, Michael C. Melnychuk, Trevor A. Branch, Steven D. Gaines, Cody S. Szuwalski, Reniel B. Cabral, Douglas N. Rader, and Amanda Leland. 2016. “Global fishery prospects under contrasting management regimes.” PNAS 5125-5129. doi:”$”:

Mapping status and conservation of global at‐risk marine biodiversity 

O’Hara, Casey C., Juan Carlos Villaseñor-Derbez, Gina M. Ralph, and Benjamin S. Halpern. 2019. “Mapping status and conservation of global at-risk marine biodiversity.” Conservation Letters e12651. doi:”$”:

Linking freshwater fishery management to global food security and biodiversity conservation

McIntyre, Peter B, Catherine A Reidy Liermann, and Carmen Revenga. 2016. “Linking freshwater fishery management to global food security and biodiversity conservation.” Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 12880-12885. doi:10.1073/pnas.1521540113.

Integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA) outperforms conventional polyculture with respect to environmental remediation, productivity and economic return in brackishwater ponds

Gouranga Biswas, Prem Kumar, T.K. Ghoshal, M. Kailasam, Debasis De, Aritra Bera, Babita Mandal, Krishna Sukumaran, K.K. Vijayan,. 2020. “Integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA) outperforms conventional polyculture with respect to environmental remediation, productivity and economic return in brackishwater ponds.” Aquaculture 734626. doi:”$”:

Reuse and recycle: Integrating aquaculture and agricultural systems to increase production and reduce nutrient pollution

D. Nākoa Farrant, Kiana L. Frank, Ashley E. Larsen. 2021. “Reuse and recycle: Integrating aquaculture and agricultural systems to increase production and reduce nutrient pollution.” Science of The Total Environment 146859. doi:”$”:

Multi-objective zoning for aquaculture and biodiversity

Chiara Venier, Stefano Menegon, Hugh P. Possingham, Elena Gissi, Andrea Zanella, Daniel Depellegrin, Alessandro Sarretta, Andrea Barbanti, Jennifer McGowan,. 2021. “Multi-objective zoning for aquaculture and biodiversity.” Science of The Total Environment 146997. doi:”$”:

Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) system combining the sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus, as primary species, and the sea cucumber Holothuria tubulosa as extractive species

Luca Grosso, Arnold Rakaj, Alessandra Fianchini, Lorenzo Morroni, Stefano Cataudella, Michele Scardi,. 2021. “Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) system combining the sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus, as primary species, and the sea cucumber Holothuria tubulosa as extractive species.” Aquaculture 736268. doi:”$”:

Biodiversity and sustainability of the integrated rice-fish system in Hani terraces, Yunnan province, China

Feifan Li, Jiancao Gao, Yue Xu, Zhijuan Nie, Jinghui Fang, Qunlan Zhou, Gangchun Xu, Nailin Shao, Dongpo Xu, Pao Xu, Mingyu Wang,. 2021. “Biodiversity and sustainability of the integrated rice-fish system in Hani terraces, Yunnan province, China.” Aquaculture Reports 100763. doi:”$”:

Cascading effects of overfishing marine systems

Scheffer, Marten, Steve Carpenter, and Brad de Young. 2005. “Cascading effects of overfishing marine systems.” Trends in Ecology & Evolutions 579-581. doi:”$”:

The digital provide: Information (technology), market performance, and welfare in the South Indian fisheries sector

Jensen, Robert. 2007. “The Digital Provide: Information (Technology), Market Performance, and Welfare in the South Indian Fisheries Sector.” The Quarterly Journal of Economics 879–924. doi:”$”:

Towards the development of a sustainable soya bean-based feedstock for aquaculture

Hyunwoo Park, Steven Weier, Fareha Razvi, Pamela A. Peña, Neil A. Sims, Jennica Lowell, Cory Hungate, Karma Kissinger, Gavin Key, Paul Fraser, Johnathan A. Napier, Edgar B. Cahoon, Tom E. Clemente. 2016. “Towards the development of a sustainable soya bean-based feedstock for aquaculture.” Plant Biotechnology Journal 227-236. doi:

The impact of integrated aquaculture–agriculture on small-scale farm sustainability and farmers’ livelihoods: Experience from Bangladesh

Murshed-E-Jahan, Khondker, and Diemuth E. Pemsl. 2011. “The impact of integrated aquaculture–agriculture on small-scale farm sustainability and farmers’ livelihoods: Experience from Bangladesh.” Agricultural Systems 392-402. doi:”$”:

Life cycle assessment of food production in integrated agriculture–aquaculture systems of the Mekong Delta

Phong, L.T., I.J.M. de Boer, and H.M.J. Udo. 2011. “Life cycle assessment of food production in integrated agriculture–aquaculture systems of the Mekong Delta.” Livestock Science 80-90. doi:”$”:

Recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS): Environmental solution and climate change adaptation

Nesar Ahmed, Giovanni M. Turchini,. 2021. “Recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS): Environmental solution and climate change adaptation.” Journal of Cleaner Production 126604. doi:”$”:

Implications of fisheries impacts to seabed biodiversity and ecosystem-based management 

Simon F. Thrush, Kari E. Ellingsen, Kathryn Davis,. 2016. “Implications of fisheries impacts to seabed biodiversity and ecosystem-based management.” ICES Journal of Marine Science 73: i44–i50. doi:”$”: .

Developments in Tagging Technology and Their Contributions to the Protection of Marine Species at Risk

Whoriskey, Frederick, and Mark Hindell. 2016. “Developments in Tagging Technology and Their Contributions to the Protection of Marine Species at Risk.” Ocean Development & International Law 221-232 . doi:”$”:

Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services 

IPBES. 2019. Global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. Global assessment report, Bonn, Germany: IPBES secretariat, 1148 pages. doi:”$”:

A sea of many colours – How relevant is Blue Growth for capture fisheries in the Global North, and vice versa?

J.Boonstra, Wiebren, Matilda Valman, and Emma Björkvik. 2018. “A sea of many colours – How relevant is Blue Growth for capture fisheries in the Global North, and vice versa?” Marine Policy 340-349. doi:”$”:

The State of World Fisheries 2020

FAO. 2020. The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2020. Sustainability in action. Assessment report, Rome: FAO. doi:”$”:

Sustainable aquaculture: developing the promise of aquaculture

Frankic, Anamarija, and Carl Hershner. 2003. “Sustainable aquaculture: developing the promise of aquaculture.” Aquaculture International 517–530. doi:10.1023/B:AQUI.0000013264.38692.91

Sustainable aquaculture in ponds: Principles, practices and limits

H.Bosma, Roel, and Marc C.J.Verdegem. 2011. “Sustainable aquaculture in ponds: Principles, practices and limits.” Livestock Science 58-68. doi:”$”:

Achieving sustainable aquaculture: Historical and current perspectives and future needs and challenges

Claude E. Boyd, Louis R. D’Abramo, Brent D. Glencross, David C. Huyben, Lorenzo M. Juarez, George S. Lockwood, Aaron A. McNevin, Albert G. J. Tacon, Fabrice Teletchea, Joseph R. Tomasso Jr, Craig S. Tucker, Wagner C. Valenti. 2020. “Achieving sustainable aquaculture: Historical and current perspectives and future needs and challenges.” 578-633. doi:”$”:

Virtual fisheries through mobile apps : The way forward

Sharma, Arpita, and Kiranmayi Dhenuvakonda. 2019. “Virtual fisheries through mobile apps: The way forward.” Journal of Entomology and Zoology Studies 1093-1099.

Yeast derived from lignocellulosic biomass as a sustainable feed resource for use in aquaculture

Margareth Øverland, Anders Skrede. 2017. “Yeast derived from lignocellulosic biomass as a sustainable feed resource for use in aquaculture.” Science of Food and Agriculture 733-742. doi:

Macroalgae as a sustainable aquafeed ingredient

Alex H.L. Wan, Simon J. Davies, Anna Soler-Vila, Richard Fitzgerald, Mark P. Johnson. 2019. “Macroalgae as a sustainable aquafeed ingredient.” Reviews in Aquaculture 458-492. doi:”$”:

Comparative environmental impact assessment of aquafeed production: Sustainability implications of forage fish meal and oil free diets

Ghamkhar, Ramin, and Andrea Hicks. 2020. “Comparative environmental impact assessment of aquafeed production: Sustainability implications of forage fish meal and oil free diets.” Resources, Conservation, and Recycling 104849. doi:”$”:

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Lopez-Alvarado, Julio. 1997. “Aquafeeds and the Environment.” CIHEAM – Options Mediterraneennes 275-289.

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Kosamu, Ishmael B.M. 2017. “Conditions for sustainability of small-scale fisheries in developing countries.” Fisheries Research 365-373. doi:”$”:

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FAO. 2001. Integrated agriculture-aquaculture: a primer. FAO Fisheries Technical Paper, Rome: FAO/ICLARM/IIRR.

Each resource is assigned a rating of rigor according to the NESTA Standards of Evidence.

Define Metrics

Core Metrics

This starter set of core metrics — chosen from the IRIS catalog with the input of impact investors who work in this area — indicate performance toward objectives within this strategy. They can help with setting targets, tracking performance, and managing toward success.

Interested in providing feedback on these IRIS metrics in the forthcoming public comment period? Request an invitation here and include “Biodiversity theme” in the box.

Additional Metrics

While the above core metrics provide a starter set of measurements that can show outcomes of a portfolio targeted toward this goal, the additional metrics below — or others from the IRIS catalog — can provide more nuance and depth to understanding your impact.