Nutrition, health and food security

FISH developed new evidence and knowledge
products on the nutritional values of fish and other aquatic foods, particularly their global importance in healthy, nutritious diets and ending malnutrition, including their critical role in diets in the first 1000 days. These contributions can be enhanced by securing sustainable and diverse supplies, integrating aquatic foods within food and nutrition policies, reorienting fisheries and aquaculture policies toward nutrition-sensitive approaches, and enhancing access in vulnerable geographies and social groups. The integration of fish and aquatic foods within social protection and emergency responses, such as school feeding programs, is a critical pathway to improve nutrition of the most vulnerable and provide lifelong benefits, including educational potential, especially for girls. FISH researchers and partners contributed to an influential UN Nutrition Discussion Paper and the UN Food Systems Summit and related policy processes that have led to increased recognition at the highest levels of fish and aquatic foods and the small-scale actors that steward fish agri-food systems.

Poverty reduction, livelihoods and jobs

Small-scale actors are crucial stewards of aquatic
resources and play critical roles in shepherding fish and other aquatic foods through food systems to consumers. Securing or improving these roles—by sustaining access to productive
small-scale fisheries, small-scale aquaculture or investing in women in value chains—provides multiple opportunities for poverty reduction, better livelihoods and new jobs. Small-scale actors make up more than 70 percent of those engaged in fisheries and aquaculture but are often “hidden” in data and governance structures, with voices and experiences rarely heard. FISH has helped quantify these opportunities and shown that greater attention in policy and investment
to small-scale actors provides a highly significant but often overlooked opportunity to advance equity, nutrition, livelihood and resilience outcomes from fish agri-food systems.

Gender equality, youth and social inclusion

FISH delivered new knowledge and innovation that pushes the frontier of gender equality and social equity in agri-food systems.
FISH and partners addressed the most fundamental case of exclusion—the persistent underrepresentation of women and their labor in data—illuminating, for example, that at least 44 million women worldwide contribute labor in pre-harvest, harvest and post-harvest roles in small-scale fisheries. However, the essential roles women play, like in processing and trading fish in Africa, are poorly supported by policy and investment, a situation made worse during COVID-19. Systemic inequities and barriers based on gender, age, wealth, ability or other social identities must be addressed and vulnerable groups empowered if fish agri-food systems are to help achieve food and nutrition security, decent livelihoods and poverty reduction. FISH has created new approaches and tools for gender equality in fish agri-food systems, such as a gender-transformative approach that address systemic, yet invisible, barriers to equity

Climate adaptation and greenhouse gas reduction

Climate change is impacting fisheries and aquaculture. Yet fish and other aquatic foods also provide pathways to improve
the resilience of food, land and water systems, including as a supply of nutritious food that can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the fish agri-food system. FISH research has
provided new tools and frameworks for inclusive and holistic climate adaptation in coastal communities and worked with partners to apply new climate information tools to mitigate
risks. The management and technology approaches in fisheries and aquaculture have helped highlight low carbon opportunities for mitigation, such as the work on tilapia farming systems in Egypt through adoption of new tilapia strains and better management practices.

Environmental health and biodiversity

Small-scale fisheries and aquaculture are commonly missing from policies and investments for water and land management. This often leads to unintended negative impacts on fisheries productivity and the nutrition and livelihoods of people dependent on them. FISH has shown positive social, economic and environmental outcomes when small-scale fisheries and aquaculture are provided with operating space and enabling conditions in multifunctional water and landscape policies and investments. Achievements were made in the development of innovations, guidance and tools to integrate fisheries into modern irrigation systems and rice-dominated landscapes. New tools for assessing aquaculture futures also provided policy advice on the design of new pathways for sustainable aquaculture growth and the application of FISH innovations to improvements in environmental health and biodiversity.

Pathways to impact in fish agri-food systems

FISH has made progress in translating research and innovation to impact through four key pathways:
(i) using research evidence and partnerships to influence policies, institutions and investments,
(ii) creating global public good innovations and enabling adoption and dissemination of validated innovations,
(iii)building partnerships across the research-to-impact pathway with public, private and civil society agencies and communities, and
(iv) supporting partners in diverse ways to put research into use. A key learning from FISH is that a firm focus on such change mechanisms is necessary for sustained uptake of fish agrifood system research and innovation as the foundation for longer-term impacts. The approach has already provided benefits as noted in the 2020 independent evaluation: “Management and governance have helped translate research results into meaningful impact” and “Hundreds of thousands
of individuals in low-income countries have had their income, empowerment and nutrition enhanced.”