Lepomis sp. © Michel Roggo


There is a paradox, particularly surrounding freshwater fish conservation, in that there are significant numbers of people with a direct interest in their conservation. A new partnership is needed that can scale action and ensure coordination and collaboration with key actors in the field.

SHOAL has been created to build and direct this partnership to effectively and efficiently direct funding and other resources at the most critical interventions required to prevent freshwater species extinctions.

Currently this kind of partnership does not exist for almost any other group of species, let alone freshwater fish. This will be an inclusive, partner-driven alliance, ensuring the fundamental mission of SHOAL is met – to conserve freshwater fish through action-driven conservation.

We start with freshwater fish – a group in desperate need of attention and action and one which elicits interest from us all. We will place freshwater fish at the forefront of SHOAL – providing a strong and simple message that these species need our help. In conserving fish, we will in turn be conserving other freshwater species and their habitats. As the SHOAL partnership develops, and depending on the partnership’s drive and interests, other targeted freshwater species such as plants and invertebrates will be included. We believe this initiative can be catalytic to freshwater species conservation – “when you build it they will come”.

Mission and Vision

SHOAL’s vision: A world where all native freshwater species have the conditions needed for them to thrive in their natural habitats, where there is no longer an extinction crisis in the world’s freshwater ecosystems.

SHOAL’s mission: To halt extinctions and recover populations of threatened freshwater species in the wild.

Shoal’s principal objectives:

  • To mobilise meaningful action for the conservation of threatened freshwater species.
  • To build capacity of partners to implement impactful freshwater conservation work.
  • To raise awareness of the need for more and better freshwater conservation action.

Core Values

This initiative is not called SHOAL just because it focuses on fish. It is also because our theory of change is fundamentally based both on the need, but more importantly, the opportunity to work together. Partnership is at the core of SHOAL, and to achieve our ambitious mission, together SHOAL will champion and embrace the following core values and concepts:

  • Focus on fish: SHOAL will primarily focus on freshwater fishes. We can garner more support by inspiring funding for the charismatic, valued, and beautiful fishes of the world. We will design projects that focus on one species but will create the conditions for the survival of many other species, including us!
  • Science-based: Through our support and partnership with the IUCN freshwater specialist groups including the IUCN Freshwater Fish Specialist Group and with institutions, associations and universities involved in freshwater species science, SHOAL will ensure that every action is based on the guidance of the best expertise.
  • New approaches and innovation: Freshwater conservation has often been forced to align with the strategies used for terrestrial conservation and frequently through the lens of mammals and birds which has skewed priorities and approaches. SHOAL will ensure that the strategies adopted are led by the appropriate pattern and priorities and will use innovative approaches relevant to freshwater conditions.
  • Participation: The approach and success of SHOAL is fundamentally predicated on the ensuring the broadest and deepest participation of people, communities, organisations and businesses across the globe. Achieving this level of participation is the core focus for SHOAL.
  • Capacity: The negligence and consequent lack of funding for freshwater species conservation in the past has led to very severe capacity gaps for effective conservation. SHOAL will couple capacity building and training within every project that it supports.
  • Awareness: Without awareness, the levels of participation that SHOAL aims to achieve will be impossible. SHOAL will seek partners and donors with a deliberate and dedicated focus to raising awareness of the threat and the solutions for freshwater ecosystems.
  • Innovative, flexible and direct funding: The lack of investment in freshwater species conservation has left large gaps in capacity and knowledge. SHOAL has been primarily created and is committed to helping to end that situation. Innovative, flexible and direct funding to local implementers is the target for SHOAL’s financing strategy for change.