By 2030, 8.5 billion people will live on Earth. It is necessary to look at how terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems interact to optimize food production, while avoiding negative impacts to people and nature.

Sustainable Development Goal 14 – Life Below Water

Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development.

Freshwater ecosystems

are the most threatened globally.


of major marine fish stocks are depleted or overexploited.


of global fish food comes from aquaculture.


are critical coastal ecosystems that are often cleared to make way for shrimp farms.

The future

of seafood includes farming of unfed species like seaweed and shellfish, which sustain themselves without additional inputs.

Aquatic ecosystems harbour immense biodiversity and provide ecosystem services for both coastal and inland communities.

However, overfishing to meet increased global protein demand is putting these ecosystems at risk. Replacing harmful practices requires looking at how terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems interact and finding responsible ways to optimize sustainable seafood production.

Adapting and testing the HCV Approach in aquaculture

Although originally envisioned for use on land, the HCV Approach can also help identify and protect important freshwater and coastal High Conservation Value (HCV) areas and support responsible aquaculture.

In July 2021, the HCV Network Secretariat signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), the world’s top certifier of farmed seafood, to collaborate on key actions aimed at facilitating the implementation of the HCV Approach. The purpose is to build from existing HCV placeholders in the ASC Fish Farm Standard to develop tailored and practical guidance for fish farming companies to interpret the HCV Approach in freshwater or marine ecosystems.

The Secretariat is fundraising to carry out pilots in salmon and shrimp farming sites in Central and South America in collaboration with WWF Chile and WWF Mesoamerica. Pilots will provide an opportunity to test adapted HCV guidance in these environments. Potential projects with Oceana Mexico and Pronatura Noreste are also being explored.

For more information about this workstream, please contact

Related Content

  • Editorial
    15 September 2021

    Beyond land: rethinking the HCV Approach for aquatic ecosystems

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  • Announcements
    12 July 2021

    MOU with the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC)

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  • Announcements
    07 May 2015

    Taking HCV from forests to freshwaters

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