Enhancing the contributions of


to reduce poverty and improve food security and nutrition

About Fish

The fish agri-food system connects supplies of fish and other aquatic foods through multiple pathways and scales to diverse consumers across the planet and is a key component of global agri-food systems. Fish and other aquatic foods contribute to the livelihoods of 800 million people and provide 20 percent of daily animal protein, as well as key micronutrients and essential fatty acids, for more than 3.1 billion people. A diverse array of fish and aquatic foods from ocean to inland waters contributes to many national economies and diets, particularly in low-income food-deficit countries, providing one of the most accessible and often most sustainable animal-source foods. With nutrient deficits high and growing in many regions and as global demand for fish and other aquatic foods grow, so does the challenge of improving and sustaining the fish agri-food system to deliver healthy and nutritious food and positive social, economic and environmental outcomes, including those represented in the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The CGIAR Research Program on Fish Agri-Food Systems (FISH) was launched in 2017. It was led by WorldFish together with its managing partners, the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), the Aquaculture and Fisheries Group at Wageningen University & Research (WUR), the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University (JCU) and the Natural Resources Institute at the University of Greenwich.

FISH was designed as the main programmatic vehicle for WorldFish to achieve its 2017–2021 organizational strategy objectives, specifically to identify innovative solutions to contemporary food and nutrition challenges and to contribute to more sustainable and resilient fish agrifood systems. FISH developed and adopted a theory of change and an integrated approach that addressed challenges for developing and managing sustainable aquaculture and small-scale fisheries in inland and coastal waters, with cross-cutting themes of nutrition, gender, youth, capacity development, climate change and, as later emerged, COVID-19.

Where we work

FISH pursued a research for development program spanning 20 countries in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, with research and innovations shared widely within countries and beyond through extensive networks and diverse partnerships to accelerate learning and impact.

Where we work

  • Egypt
  • Ghana
  • Kenya
  • Malawi
  • Nigeria
  • Sierra-Leone
  • Tanzania
  • Zambia

Africa faces extreme poverty and food and nutrition security challenges. More than 40 percent of the population lives on less than USD 1.90 a day, and 38 percent of children under five are malnourished. Despite fish contributing 18 percent of the total animal-source protein in Africa, fish consumption is the lowest in the world at 9.2 kg per capita, with projections for the future showing little improvement. In Africa, FISH aimed to setting a foundation of research, innovation and partnerships for the future growth and sustainable development of aquaculture and fisheries within the region.

  • Bangladesh
  • Cambodia
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Malaysia
  • Myanmar
  • Philippines
  • Vietnam

Asia is home to over 50 percent of the world's poorest people and, in South Asia, the highest numbers of undernourished people. Over two-thirds of the global supply of fish comes from this region, where a large proportion is consumed domestically. FISH focuses its research on developing sustainable aquaculture, integrating aquaculture with agriculture, increasing small-scale aquaculture productivity, rehabilitating and sustaining coastal fisheries, increasing the production and consumption of small-fish for nutrition and health, and enabling more inclusive fisheries co-management approaches

  • Timor-Leste
  • Solomon-Islands

Pacific Islanders derive most of their animal-source protein from fish, with fish consumption rates are among the highest in the world. Fishing is consistently one of the top two sources of livelihood in rural communities. Fish also contribute significantly to national economies, particularly in those countries with significant tuna stocks. Population growth, overfishing and climate change threaten the supply of fish and present major nutrition security challenges in the future. FISH research in Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste focussed on management of coastal marine resources, the promotion of supplementary livelihood options and the options for sustainable aquaculture.


During its five years of operation, FISH helped improve food and nutrition security, reduce poverty, enhance sustainability, build resilience to climate change and develop a new foundation of research and innovations for fish agri-food systems. New, compelling evidence was provided on the critical role fish and other aquatic foods play in nutritious diets and the diverse values fish agri-food systems bring to sustainable livelihoods and responses to the global climate crisis. FISH championed the more significant and central role that fish and other aquatic foods can and must play in securing sustainable, healthy and resilient food systems. Concurrently, FISH helped position small-scale fishers, fish farmers and value chain actors, their well-being and the goods and services they provide as central to sustainable and inclusive food system transformation and building forward better post-COVID-19




Research Products


Capacity Development

Research, Innovation and Impact

Research and innovations provide the basis for impact. FISH researchers reported over 100 innovations between 2017 and 2021, underpinned by over 700 research products in sustainable aquaculture, small-scale fisheries, nutrition, gender, youth, climate change and capacity development. FISH innovations are at various stages of development and application, from discovery and proof of concept to uptake by end users, contributing to the goal of reducing poverty and improving food and nutrition security through fisheries and aquaculture, while enhancing environmental sustainability.

Sustainable aquaculture

Sustainable aquaculture research was directed at improving tilapia and carp farming systems, two widely cultured species that constitute over 27 percent of global aquaculture production. Research focused on fish breeds and genetics, fish health, nutrition and feeds, and aquaculture systems, with an overall objective of “enabling sustainable increases in, and gender and socially equitable livelihood returns from, aquaculture production without creating adverse socio-economic or environmental impacts”.

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Sustaining small-scale fisheries

Small-scale fisheries are critical sources of food and livelihoods, including where formal markets and value chains function poorly, but they are increasingly threatened by pressures like overfishing, climate change and geopolitics. FISH research on resilient coastal fisheries, fish in multifunctional landscapes ( water systems, rice-dominated landscapes ) and fish in regional food systems worked at multiple scales to illuminate and sustain the values of small-scale fisheries, with the objective of “securing and enhancing the contribution of sustainable small-scale fisheries to gender-equitable poverty reduction and food security in priority geographies.”

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FISH research on gender highlighted the multiple, critical values of gender inclusivity in fish agri-food systems. FISH generated new evidence on systemic inequities and barriers based on gender, age, wealth, ability or another social identity, and how they can be addressed so that fish agri-food systems equitably contribute to food and nutrition security, livelihoods and poverty reduction.

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FISH conducted research to address adaption and mitigation strategies to climate change to help build more resilient ecosystems for those who depend on small-scale aquaculture and fisheries. Research and innovation within FISH responded to the climate challenge, with knowledge, innovations and evidence to inform policy and investment decisions that build the resilience of fish agri-food systems, in close cooperation with the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).

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FISH adopted a youth-responsive research agenda to increase opportunities for safe and rewarding employment and entrepreneurship, and engage youth to determine the factors that enable or hinder participation in decision-making, as well as access to training, technology and finance. The research agenda targeted young men and women and was guided by an initial youth assessment led by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI).

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Capacity Development

Capacity development is a key mechanism for ensuring research quality and enabling impact. FISH pursued several pathways with diverse projects and partners to enhance capacities of key stakeholders. Short-term training activities were supported in multiple ways, often through partners and bilateral project investments, with over 600,000 participants in 40 countries from 2017 to 2021, of which 75 percent were women. Trainees, including smallscale fishers, fish farmers and other value chain actors, were supported with practical training on many topics, like production, business and nutrition-sensitive aquaculture.

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FISH and partners faced significant challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which started in 2020. This required changes in operations and management to secure core lines of research and pivoting FISH research and innovations to support partners with arising challenges.  

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Sustainable aquaculture

Aquaculture currently supplies around half of the fish consumed globally and is projected to grow from 66.6 million metric tons in 2012 to 93.2 tons by 2030. But significant improvements in aquaculture technologies, farming systems and value chains are needed to achieve this increase in production in ways that are socially and environmentally responsible. 

FISH’s sustainable aquaculture flagship program focused on how productivity-improving technologies and management practices can enable aquaculture to achieve its fullest contribution to equitable livelihoods and food and nutrition security while delivering environmental benefits Research was directed towards tilapia and carp farming systems, which are widely cultured species that together supply over 27% of world aquaculture production.  

Research was focused in countries with low and medium Human Development Indicators and high dependence on fish for food, where aquaculture is in early stages of development but needs accelerated growth to fill projected shortfalls, or where aquaculture is already established but opportunities exist to sustainably intensify to the supply levels required to meet growing domestic or regional demand. 

FISH worked across four clusters of research and innovation: fish breeds and genetics, feeds, fish diseases, and aquaculture systems.

Improvements in fish breeding and genetics 

The lack of access to improved strains for many farmed fish species is a major impediment to achieving efficient and sustainable fish farming across the globe. FISH disseminated improved fish strains from earlier genetics research, applied genetics technologies to a wider range of species, and created a strong platform to produce more resilient fish over the next decade. The knowledge and tools developed provide the foundation of genetic gain in fish upon which other improvements in fish feeds, health and management can support secure and sustainable livelihoods for fish farmers.  

Sustainable and accessible fish feeds for small-scale farmers 

Improvements in feed accessibility for small-scale fish farmers is crucial to enhancing productivity of genetically improved fish. FISH research on fish feeds and nutrition improved our knowledge of the nutritional requirements of tilapia. We learned how to make better use of local ingredients and improve feed management systems for productivity, profitability and environmental sustainability. The focus was on tilapia aquaculture but also included carps and catfish. 

Improved fish disease detection, management and prevention 

Aquaculture productivity is often limited by the introduction and spread of infectious fish diseases, compromising livelihoods and food and nutrition security in Africa and Asia. FISH’s fish health research on tilapia and carp systems aimed to improve disease diagnosis and prevention measures at breeding nuclei, multiplication centers, hatcheries and farms. New epidemiological tools were developed and widely applied, along with new diagnostic and management techniques for disease prevention, detection and control.

Aquaculture system models and innovations 

FISH generated increased understanding of the impacts of existing and improved aquaculture systems and technologies to identify appropriate ways to enhance their contribution. The research combined baseline data collection, cost-benefit analysis, life cycle assessment, randomized evaluation, and econometric techniques to assess the performance of aquaculture systems and technologies under different agro-ecological, socioeconomic and cultural contexts in low- and middle-income countries. Models for integrating improved breeds, health and feeds for gender-responsive sustainable intensification were also developed and new digital tools were applied to performance assessment, prioritizing innovations that create new engagement, employment and enterprise opportunities for youth and women.  


Accelerating climate resilience of aquatic food systems 

Climate changes can impact fisheries and aquaculture directly, by influencing production quantities and efficiency, or indirectly, by influencing the market price of fish or the costs of goods and services required by the fisheries and aquaculture sectors.  

Whereas climate change will impact fisheries and aquaculture, fish and other aquatic foods can provide a pathway to improve the resilience of food, land and water systems while our climate is changing. Fish agrifood systems can provide sustainable solutions for climate mitigation and adaptation by supplying nutritious food with lower environmental impacts that can contribute to greenhouse gas reduction of the food system. 

FISH conducted research to address adaption and mitigation strategies to climate change to help build more resilient ecosystems for those who depend on small-scale aquaculture and fisheries. Research and innovation within FISH responded to the climate challenge, with knowledge, innovations and evidence to inform policy and investment decisions that build resilience of fish agri-food systems, in close cooperation with the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). The strategy focused on two pathways

In adaptation, a partnership with James Cook University provided an innovative framework for assessing and enhancing adaptive capacity. It was further refined to integrate social organization and social networks for both adaptive and transformative actions in communities experiencing climate change impacts. 

In mitigation, progress was made with collation of knowledge on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from aquaculture, together with development of a new digital tool for assessing GHG emissions from aquaculture systems to be used for advising on low GHG growth and management options. 

Traditional climate change adaptation interventions have often focused on short-term coping mechanisms, but resilience requires enhancing the ability of small-scale actors in aquatic food systems and fisheries- and aquaculture-dependent communities to withstand shocks and cope with future climate risks. Critical policies, investments and social networks are instrumental to their success. FISH research and innovation identified four key components for climate-resilient aquatic food systems: 

Reduced vulnerabilities by reducing risk and exposure to hazards.

Climate change impacts on aquatic food systems place vulnerable communities with limited adaptive capacities at most risk. Policy and investment interventions require a positive bias in favor of the most vulnerable. Building resilient aquatic food systems requires a holistic approach that reduces exposure to climate hazards, increases ability to predict and capacity to respond to hazards, and ensures availability of viable livelihood opportunities 

Increased ability to predict or anticipate climate hazards.

Increasing access to climate information and quality forecasts tailored to aquatic food systems can empower producers and other value chain actors to manage risks. However, contextualized services for aquatic food systems using timely and reliable climate information are scarce. To begin addressing this, FISH collaborated with partners in Bangladesh and India to improve climate information services for fish farmers, and scaled these services in both countries 

Enhanced capacity to respond to climate hazards.

The ability of aquatic food system actors to predict climate hazards must be complemented with enhanced capacity to respond to or minimize climate-induced disaster risks. In Bangladesh, for example, FISH and partners trained key value chain actors, who have further disseminated the knowledge to fish farmers and support agents (fish farm managers, hatchery managers, fish breeding professionals), on managing climate risks. To scale this further, FISH is collaborating with other projects and partners. 

Increased availability and accessibility of viable livelihood opportunities.

An inclusive, sustainable and cost-effective way of building resilience of fisheries- and aquaculture-dependent communities is identifying and increasing access to viable livelihood opportunities, many of which can be positive for nature and people. FISH explored a diversity of innovations with promise, including integrated rice-fish systems, genetically improved tilapia strains, climate risk management practices for fish and shrimp farms in the Mekong Region, and low carbon tilapia farm management in Egypt.


Gender equality and women’s empowerment

Gender equality and women’s empowerment are globally recognized priorities, yet gendered inequalities and barriers remain prevalent. People of all genders make critical contributions throughout fish agri-food systems. Yet, women – and especially women who are from marginalized socio-economic groups – generally have less voice in decision making and face more severe constraints than men in accessing information, financial and technical services, innovations, and markets. Even when women do have access to physical or financial assets, control over these assets may be in favor of men.

Underlying barriers, such as constraining norms around gendered division of labor and who is seen as a leader and innovator, mean that women tend to be disproportionally represented in unpaid and lower-return roles, face additional barriers to opportunities and do not benefit equally with men from being part of fish agri-food systems.

Fish agri-food systems are intersected by different levels of social and gender inequalities and inequities. At the micro-level, women have less ownership and control of assets that generate income (land, ponds, fish, technology) and bear a greater share of unpaid work. At the macro-level, they are disproportionately involved in low-return employment and less profitable nodes of value chains, receive an inequitable share of benefits and have unequal power in governance. 

Through its Gender Strategy, FISH examined gendered patterns and barriers in fish agri-food systems and identified strategies to address inequities. FISH identified four impact pathways that connect to gender and social justice themes of voice and choice, women’s economic empowerment, gender equality, equity and human rights, and food systems transformation. They recognize intersecting forms of marginalization and power dynamics, take a multi-scale approach, and engage the knowledge and agency of women and men in generating insights and ways forward.

Pathway 1: The resilience of fish agri-food systems relies on gender-inclusive and gender-responsive innovations. Gender equity considerations must be integrated into every stage of innovation development, dissemination and uptake. This involves moving beyond male-focused innovation processes to include explicit assessments of women’s needs and engaging women as innovators. For example, a climate-smart aquaculture study in Bangladesh engaged women as fish farmers and co-researchers, rather than as “wives of fish farmers” or “research subjects.”

Pathway 2: Inclusive livelihoods and wealth generation in fish agri-food systems help ensure women’s economic empowerment. Inclusive livelihoods and wealth generation, including women’s economic empowerment, require building of enablers, including supportive familial relations and women’s education, strategies to avoid further loss of assets such as social protection, investments in women’s social networks, and equitably engaging women in decision-making at all scales.

Pathway 3: Inclusive governance is the foundation of equitable and resilient fish agri-food systems. FISH conducted case studies in Bangladesh and Indonesia that illustrate that women’s entry and control of their own income in fish value chains is necessary, but not sufficient, to achieve women’s economic empowerment. Structural enablers are also required, including spousal and family support, education, ownership of productive resources, and social networks as they relate to market access. Information communication technologies can allow women to work, train and receive payments from home, offering a way around gendered mobility constraints to economic empowerment.

Pathway 4: Gender transformative approaches (GTA) are necessary to overcome invisible barriers to gender equality. FISH was a pioneer in GTA and its research complemented and went beyond business-as-usual gender accommodative approaches. Rather than seeking short-term solutions, FISH critically examined and engaged with factors underlying unequal gender dynamics, in particular gender norms and associated practices that constrain gender equality. In doing so, FISH identified investments in policy and practice and influence changes in institutions to those that engages both women and men, creating opportunities for contextually appropriate and locally informed, lasting shifts towards gender equality.


Small-scale fisheries

Small-scale fisheries (SSFs) generate critical food and income, often where formal markets and supply chains function poorly. These fisheries are under multiple pressures that threaten sustainability and the equitable distribution of the benefits they provide. 

Under its Small-Scale Fisheries flagship, FISH conducted research to secure and enhance the contribution of sustainable SSFs to reduce poverty and increase food security in priority geographies. 

The research was organized across four research and innovation clusters. 

Resilient coastal fisheries 

Coastal small-scale fisheries produce approximately half the fish consumed in the developing world and employ 47 million people, about a third of whom are women. 

Research targeted the challenges of sustaining production from small-scale coastal fisheries in the Pacific and estuarine fisheries in Bangladesh through co-management, with special attention to improving gender- and socially equitable access to resources and benefit streams.

Collaborative research was conducted with fishing communities, civil society organizations, and provincial, national and regional agencies, creating links between localized fisheries management innovations to broader-scale governance improvements. Novel digital approaches for improving small-scale fisheries were increasingly applied. FISH successfully improved and extended co-management and supported a bundle of innovations to improve outcomes of co-management, including innovations that increase equity and inclusion in co-management establishment, implementation and review. 

Fish in multifunctional landscapes 

Research on multifunctional landscapes addressed the challenge of assessing and sustaining the multiple benefits of inland fisheries facing major threats. The work focused on rice-dominated landscapes in Cambodia and Myanmar in the Mekong and Ayerawady delta regions. Research aimed to assess ecosystem-based water management for small-scale fisheries in rice-dominated landscapes, develop integrated production and governance models for small-scale fisheries and aquaculture in multi-use landscapes, and create digital and analytical tools to support planners and decision makers for better management and governance of rice-fish systems and water management. The innovations not only address environmental and nutrition concerns but can also improve the livelihoods of rural farmers. 

Fish in regional food systems 

Food systems encompass actors and interactions from production to consumption and disposal of food as well as social, economic and environmental outcomes. Food systems frameworks provide a holistic approach for research and innovation to enhance the role of fish and other aquatic foods in improving social, economic and environmental outcomes. 

This cluster integrated place-based research on small-scale fisheries and their drivers of change with the evolving role of fish and other aquatic foods in regional food security. Analyses and scenario development focused on the East Africa and Pacific coastal systems, African Great Lakes, and the Mekong region. These analyses underpinned multi-stakeholder dialogue to identify and implement improvements in policies and institutions that incentivize sustainable management while delivering food security and wealth generation benefits for the poor. 

Enhancing productivity and resilience of water systems 

Inland capture fisheries are the primary source of livelihoods and food and nutrition security for people in many countries, but these fisheries are often adversely impacted by irrigation infrastructure. Research by FISH, together with partners, sought to generate evidence and tools to shift policies and investment into integrated water, land and fisheries systems. The research resulted in an evidence-based guide for integrating fisheries in irrigation systems. It also sounded a call to action for improved integration of technical and social sciences in the design and implementation of water control infrastructure to better realize system benefits for more inclusive and sustainable development.


Youth in small-scale fisheries and aquaculture

Young women and men often have many barriers which prevent them from participating in fisheries and aquaculture. These barriers can include limited access to fishing grounds, capital and training.  

Empowered and innovative youth are essential to the future of small-scale fisheries and aquaculture. Thus, it is crucial to understand how youth can engage with the sector to have decent and meaningful livelihood opportunities. 

Youth is considered to be the transition period between childhood and adulthood, and as such encompasses a diverse group of individuals. Differences in gender, caste, class, sexuality and ability influence livelihood aspirations, opportunities and challenges. Issues of intersectional and intergenerational equity must be addressed to improve youth access to assets, finance, knowledge and decision-making power.  

FISH adopted a youth-responsive research agenda to increase opportunities for safe and rewarding employment and entrepreneurship, and engage youth to determine the factors that enable or hinder participation in decision-making, as well as access to training, technology and finance. The research agenda targeted young men and women and was guided by an initial youth assessment led by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI). 

Three main objectives guided the research: 1. To assess the participation of youth in fisheries and aquaculture, and the associated opportunities and challenges. 2. To analyze how we engage with youth in selected countries, and associated learnings. 3. To identify policy and investment recommendations as well as future research priorities, with an overall purpose of improving benefits to youth from small-scale fisheries, aquaculture and associated value chains. 

The International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and WorldFish assessed youth participation in small-scale fisheries, aquaculture and associated value chains in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, drawing on the voices of youth in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Egypt, Myanmar, Nigeria, the Solomon Islands, Tanzania and Zambia. A critical review of literature, supplemented by interviews, was complemented by an empirical study of the opportunities and challenges for youth participation in aquaculture in Nigeria and another study on the livelihood aspirations and realities of youth in small-scale fisheries in Myanmar. 

This assessment was used to identify opportunities and challenges for youth participation in fish agri-food systems and the development of policy guidelines for Nigeria and Myanmar as well as a close cooperation to support youth into new youth-focused interventions in the 10-country aquaculture component of the Technologies for African Agriculture Transformation initiative and youth-oriented capacity development initiative on aquaculture vocational and entrepreneurship training in Zambia. 

The research concluded that issues of intersectional and intergenerational equity must be addressed to improve youth access to assets, finance, knowledge and decision-making power. Young women and youth from poor or landless households often face additional burdens or are more acutely affected, but differences due to other intersectional identities have yet to be fully understood.  

The FISH research stressed that efforts to improve youth engagement requires a coherent and integrated response from governments, private companies, development partners, research institutes and youth organizations. There is unrealized potential for decent and meaningful livelihoods for youth in small-scale fisheries and aquaculture. This finding is especially important as youth are increasingly engaged in non-standard, informal and less secure opportunities, and as youth unemployment rises. However, successful engagement of youth in small-scale fisheries and aquaculture requires that policies, investments and other interventions be informed by an understanding of the livelihood opportunities and challenges faced by youth. 

FISH’s work helped identify future opportunities for youth. There is particular potential in downstream segments of the value chain, including processing, value addition and trading, that do not require assets needed for production. In some cases, processing and value addition can be done from home, which may facilitate greater inclusion of young women or more stability in times of crisis. A thriving aquaculture sector can create opportunities as it generally contributes to non-seasonal employment generation for youth. 


Capacity development

Capacity development is a key mechanism for ensuring research quality and enabling impact. FISH pursued several pathways with diverse projects and partners to enhance capacities of key stakeholders. Short-term training activities were supported in multiple ways, often through partners and bilateral project investments, with over 600,000 participants in 40 countries from 2017 to 2021, of which 75 percent were women. 

Trainees, including smallscalefishers, fish farmers and other value chain actors, were supported with practical training on many topics, like production, business and nutrition-sensitive aquaculture. Partners in intermediary organizations, government research and extension agencies, vocational training institutions, civil society, and private sector organizations also received training on the application of key research findings.

Training tools on gender-transformative approaches, better management practices for aquaculture, fish health management and integrated production systems, among others, were widely shared to support sustained local and national capacity. In some cases, new digital channels were also used to extend the reach of training programs, such as vocational aquaculture training in Zambia supported by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation and digital tools for extension and marketing support.

FISH also invested in translation and handover of many products to 22 vocational level training partners in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, helping to build longer-term capacity. Longer-term training focused on young researchers from developing countries and advanced research institute partners engaged in internships, masters and doctoral programs. Forty young researchers involved in PhD and related long-term educational programs represent the forefront of research capacity

Vocational training resources 

FISH has generated a repository of reports, articles, educational posters, and presentations with over 750 documents, many of which can be used for vocational training purposes at the grass-roots levels. FISH has worked with many of its partners to support their vocational training objectives by integrating these documents as key resources for their trainers and students.  

Partners in this process included: 

  1. Malawi Fisheries College, Natural Resources Development College (Zambia) 
  2. Blue Planet (Norway/Global) 
  3. The Central Laboratory for Aquaculture Research (Egypt) 
  4. Fisheries and Animal Resources Development Department (Odisha state, India) 
  5. ArYoneOo Social Development Association (Myanmar) 
  6. Centre for Entrepreneurial Studies (Nigeria) 
  7. Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center 
  8. Cambodian Institute for Research and Development 
  9. Growway Partners (Cambodia) 
  10. Social and Environmental Research Unit – Chiang Mai University 
  11. The Right Kind (Bangladesh) 
  12. BRAC (Bangladesh) 
  13. Solomon Islands National University 
  14. The Pacific Community
  15. Wageningen University (Netherlands) 
  16. Mississippi State University’s Fish Innovation Lab (USA) 
  17. Tambuyog Development Centre (Philippines), CARE (USA/Global) 

The following collections take a transdisciplinary approach to addressing the most pressing issues in the fisheries and aquaculture development sector today and in the future. In this way, users can approach learning from a systems-thinking perspective to become stronger influencers in their future careers. 

Click on an Innovation topic below to find clusters of documents within it. We hope you find them useful. 



FISH and partners faced significant challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which started in 2020. This required changes in operations and management to secure core lines of research and pivoting FISH research and innovations to support partners with arising challenges.  

Early in the pandemic, FISH invested in monthly fisheries and aquaculture value chain assessments in Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Myanmar and Nigeria to track knowledge of COVID-19 impacts and formulate appropriate responses. Partners employed methods and principles developed by FISH to also bring insights from Kenya and Papua New Guinea.  

These insights were complemented by ad hoc demand-led research on fisheries, aquaculture and community responses as well as methodological guidance, using largely bilateral funded projects. A dedicated COVID-19 portal was established to rapidly share content and disseminate relevant policy guidance, with a strong emphasis on assisting national partners and providing rapid feedback on results to users.  

Cooperation was established with the CGIAR COVID-19 Hub and the CGIAR GENDER Platform to prepare a landmark participatory assessment of COVID-19 impacts on women fish processors and traders in Africa which provides a compelling foundation for intervention to secure the fish agri-food system livelihoods of women. 


The seven golden eggs 

FISH developed seven innovation packages – or “golden eggs” – which represent the key areas of research and innovation that FISH research teams and partners developed through its program. CGIAR has adopted the term “golden eggs” since the term captures the fragility of the innovations in a change process but also highlights the notion of continued life with appropriate nurturing. These innovation packages come from FISH’s two research areas – sustainable aquaculture and sustaining small-scale fisheries – and its cross-cutting themes – gender and youth, climate, capacity development and Covid-19.  

Gender transformative approaches

Sustainable aquaculture growth through better management practices

Faster-growing and more resilient tilapia and carp

Nutrition-sensitive approaches to fish agri-food systems transformation

Digital tools for decision making and investment in fish agri-food systems

Fish and rice landscapes

New generation co-management approaches


Gender transformative approaches (GTA) complement and go beyond traditional gender approaches and can contribute to more potent and longer-term gender outcomes. While traditional approaches work around gender barriers, GTA shift underlying social norms that perpetuate inequalities. The FISH innovation package on GTA can help re-shape the way that gender issues are approached in fish agri-food systems. FISH conducted pilot projects in the Barotse Floodplain of Zambia and the Barisal region of southwest Bangladesh where short-term fixes to gender issues were being replaced by a shift to addressing underlying gender barriers. FISH partnered with CGIAR and diverse international agencies to scale GTA more widely. Building on this rich history, these partners will continue to develop and test the next generation of innovative, scalable strategies, methods and tools for catalyzing and assessing gender-transformative change and women’s empowerment.

FISH developed a package of aquaculture innovations called better management practices (BMPs) to bring together the management practices for sustainable aquaculture intensification in an integrated way optimize the benefits from improved genetics. The BMPs are a set of standardized management guidelines. FISH and its partners developed BMPs covering fish nutrition and feeding regimes, genetics and breeding programs, fish health management, farming systems, pond management, water quality management and gender integration. 


BMPs are now widely available in multiple languages in FISH focal and scaling countries, through partners, with adoption contributing to small farmers’ incomes by increasing productivity and efficient use of inputs, and thus reducing negative environmental impacts. They have proved to be especially important to support capacity building among public and private extension agencies. 


Selective breeders in the terrestrial agricultural realm are happy with gains of a few percentage points per generation. Pioneering genetic improvement innovations in tilapia and carp have achieved gains anywhere from 8% and higher and have helped enable aquaculture to now provide half of the global fish supply. Genetically improved farmed tilapia (GIFT) are now in their 17th generation and grow 100% faster than they did before the breeding program started. Faster-growing, hardier and more disease-resistant fish will have many benefits for small-scale farmers and resource-poor consumers for years to come. They will allow farmers a greater return on their investment, and in some countries will lead to lower prices for consumers. FISH’s long commitment to improving tilapia and carp through selective breeding provides a foundation from which improved strains will remain useful, valuable and available to farmers in the future. 


The nutritional benefits of fish are being well documented. Fish are a highly nutritious food that contribute a wide range of micronutrients essential to human health. But the people who could benefit most from that nutrition often don’t have access to fish. Fish products can be expensive or inaccessible to those who most need that nutrition. FISH developed a set of innovations for production and processing of fish to meet nutritional needs, with an emphasis on vulnerable children and women. This included expanding production of small indigenous fish species, increasing productivity and reducing waste and loss in fish value chains and developing improved feeds to enhance the nutritional value of fish. 


FISH helped develop a suite of digital tools and approaches for aquaculture and small-scale fisheries that improve management and policy decisions across fish agri-food systems. Digital tools and innovations can help record fishing activities, improve access to aquaculture finance and markets, improve efficiency of management and conservation planning, and identify fish pathogens. The innovation package includes a variety of tools that are increasingly being put into use to inform and connect farmers and other value chain actors, as well as advise government entities in real time for decision making. 


Fisheries co-management is becoming more widely adopted globally for management of small-scale fisheries. It’s a relationship where resource-user groups (e.g. local fishers) and other entities (e.g. government agency or non-government organization) share management responsibilities and authority. Those who are affected by management are involved in setting the rules and making future management decisions. That kind of arrangement helps improve the legitimacy of fisheries regulations at the local scale through more inclusive and transparent decision-making processes. FISH explored and applied co-management across several countries, seeking opportunities to improve and extend co-management approaches more widely. The innovation package highlights FISH’s work with communities to engage in local economic development and governance activities and encourages community conservation through mutual stewardship of natural resources. 


As the climate and biodiversity crises become increasingly challenging, we need to look at more nature-positive climate resilient approaches that secure food and nutrition security. Rice and fish can be integrated using a variety of innovations that can make efficient use of increasingly scarce water and land. The innovations not only address environmental and nutrition concerns but can maintain rice productivity and almost double profitability of the landscape. FISH adapted rice-fish production practices first used 2,000 years ago to bring fish back into the rice fields. The innovations combine productivity and nutrition outcomes, while building resilience and enhancing biodiversity. 

The future

FISH has provided a strong foundation of research, innovations and partnerships that have and continue to make contributions to the Sustainable Development Goals. The integration of promising innovations into the future One CGIAR initiatives represents one pathway to accelerate innovations to greater impact, but stakeholders beyond One CGIAR are encouraged to assess and innovate from the many opportunities for impact developed by FISH.

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ISC Chair

University of Queensland, Australia


CGIAR Research Program on Fish Agri-Food Systems and Aquaculture and Fisheries, Sciences, WorldFish

ISC Member

WorldFish, Malaysia

Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) and Impact Assessment Research Leader



Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

Representative Southeast Asia and Myanmar



Wageningen University & Research (WUR)

Commercial Director for the Natural Resources Institute

University of Greenwich

MC Member and Regional Director of South East Asia and Pacific (SEAP)


Value Chains & Nutrition Research Leader


Flagship Leader, Sustainable Aquaculture


ISC Member

Action Track Co-Manager, Global Commission On Adaptation

ISC Member

Director General, IWMI

ISC Member

Institute of Marine Research, Norway

ISC Member

Professor, Bangladesh Agricultural University

ISC Member

Professor, University of Hull

Research Program Leader, Climate Change


ISC Member

Environmental Management and Economic Development Organization, Tanzania

Director of Communications and Marketing


Resilient Small-Scale Fisheries Program Leader


Gender Research Leader


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In partnership with

FISH was a multidisciplinary research program led by WorldFish, in partnership with the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), James Cook University, the University of Greenwich and Wageningen University & Research.