Freshwater fishes are threatened by a wide array of factors, but anthropogenic disturbance, especially species introductions and translocations, impoundment of rivers, pollution, habitat degradation and overexploitation, seem to underlie the decline and extinction of many species. Although actions have been taken to address some precarious situations, traditional methods of conservation management, for example, regulation of exploitation, designation of nature reserves, captive breeding programmes for stock enhancement, do not seem to be as effective for freshwater fishes as for other animal groups. This paper summarises the present threats to freshwater fishes, identifies the underlying issues and reviews the problems relating to current management practices. It uses a case study from an Iberian highly endangered cyprinid fish –Anaecypris hispanica (Steindachner) – to highlight the options for action to protect the freshwater fish natural heritage for future generations. It is concluded that if conducted in a comprehensive manner, involving the wider public and all stakeholders, fish conservation management will confer wider environmental benefits and protect biodiversity for future generations.