Inland fish and fisheries integral to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals

Abigail J. Lynch, Vittoria Elliott, Sui Phang, Julie E. Claussen, Ian Harrison, Karen J. Murchie, Ashley E. Steel, Gretchen L. Stokes

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Inland fish provide food for billions and livelihoods for millions of people worldwide and are integral to effective freshwater ecosystem function, yet the recognition of these services is notably absent in development discussions and policies, such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). How might the SDGs be enhanced if inland fishery services were integrated into policies and development schemes? Here, we examine the relationships between inland fish, sustainable fisheries, and functioning freshwater systems and the targets of the SDGs. Our goal is to highlight synergies across the SDGs, particularly 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), that can be achieved with the inclusion of these overlooked inland fishery services.

The United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development establishes a unified set of global aspirations [i.e., the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); see Figure 1 inset] that provide a roadmap for future prosperity by addressing key challenges including world poverty, hunger, disease, and illiteracy1. The 169 targets, across 17 SDGs, measured by 232 unique indicators, are ambitious and complex. Interdependencies among targets and the systems that contribute towards them mean that even the most effective efforts to address one global challenge may unintentionally exacerbate others if the efforts overlook potential wider impacts2–4. Identifying and collecting official global statistics to track progress toward each indicator is an additional challenge; data exists for some indicators, while there are significant deficits for others (see Achieving the holistic vision of the SDGs requires coordination at multiple scales and among sectors5, as well as inclusivity of services that are not explicitly mentioned in the language of the SDG targets. Consideration of these overlooked services in policy decisions will not only help achieve individual targets, but can also result in mutually beneficial synergies across the SDGs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)579-587
Number of pages9
JournalNature Sustainability
Early online date4 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2020


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