FISH’s seven golden eggs represent the key areas of research and innovation that the program worked in. The eggs package innovations from FISH’s two research areas – sustainable aquaculture and resilient small-scale fisheries – and its three cross-cutting themes – gender, climate change and youth. By the completion of the program in 2021, the golden eggs were ready to hatch and to show impact from these areas of innovation in the countries where FISH worked. With appropriate nurturing, these golden eggs will thrive in the long term as an integral initiative of One CGIAR.
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
Download the brief “FISH Hidden Gems” here.
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 member and international agencies to scale GTA projects. 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.