CGIAR Research Program on FISH Annual report 2018

Worldfish Center

The FISH 2018 Annual Report > Message from the Chair

Message from the Chair

The CGIAR Research Program on Fish Agri-Food Systems (FISH) made progressive advances in all aspects of its operations in 2018, including executing the annual plan of work and budget, recruitment, funding, fulfilling reporting requirements and planning for the future. The leadership team and all participants are to be congratulated on their achievements as well as their commitment to addressing a few key areas for strengthening.

These areas were identified by the Independent Steering Committee (ISC) following an in-depth review we conducted of the program during the year. The ISC noted the need to ensure that the planning and delivery of the crosscutting research themes¾gender, youth, capacity development and climate change¾are embedded in all FISH work. In the case of gender, increased engagement with the Netherlands’ Royal Tropical Institute, which includes building capacity with key partners, will enhance gender integration across the FISH portfolio.

Significant advances in research were achieved in sustainable aquaculture. For example, fish genetics research identified several new traits for future genetic selection using genomics tools, including feed efficiency and disease resistance, which are critical traits for sustainable intensification under climate change.

Remarkable progress was also achieved in research, funding and recruitment for small-scale fisheries work, following a challenging start in 2017. This was facilitated by a new USD 1.5 million grant from the Oak Foundation that aims to improve collaborative governance, develop global monitoring and evaluation (M&E) systems for small-scale fisheries investments and influence policy through strategic communications.

The ISC recommended enhancing strategic discussions about fish in multifunctional landscapes, including those already underway with partners including the International Water Management Institute (IWMI). The collaboration with IWMI, a FISH managing partner, has resulted in research at the national (Myanmar) and global levels that holds considerable promise from a policy perspective because of the opportunities for change in water management that could substantially increase the values of inland fisheries and their contribution to food and nutrition security.

Several other partnerships with CGIAR centers and research programs are helping to build synergies on various dimensions of the food system. As an example, a partnership with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has highlighted the need for quality research evidence on the value of integrated rice-fish production systems to inform critical policy changes that prioritize nutrition for vulnerable communities, particularly women and children in the first 1000 days. Focusing initially on the Mekong region, such evidence is also of interest for rice-fish systems in Africa.

Research quality is given a high priority in all aspects of FISH implementation, and we welcome the appointment of a dedicated M&E leader to guide the development and implementation of a rigorous M&E strategy across the program. This has been strengthened by the adoption of the Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Platform.

Looking ahead, the ISC’s key focus in 2019 will be on strategic science guidance. The approval this year of new ISC member Dr. Marian Kjellevold, Head of Research at the Institute of Marine Research in Norway, will bring critical expertise in human nutrition to this focus.

Nigel Preston
Independent Steering Committee

Supporting more sustainable, productive and inclusive fish agri-food systems

Annual Report 2018

Youth collecting sea cucumbers in Solomon Islands. Photo by Hampus Eriksson.

The CGIAR Research Program on Fish Agri-Food Systems (FISH) made significant progress in producing and disseminating a suite of research innovations for the sustainable development of fisheries and aquaculture across Africa, Asia and the Pacific.

Highlights from 2018

Photo by Michael Akester
Fishers from Papin village, Maubin township, Myanmar returning from a floodplain fishery with a range of freshwater fish for marketing.
9 countries where research informed national policies
18,000 audience in panel presentation on 'women in the blue economy'
67,687 people received short-term training, of which 25,270 were women
179 active partnerships: 85 new for 2018
35% of partnerships focused on scaling
32 private sector partnerships
6 countries adopted improved fish seed and farm management practices
3 countries deployed new online tool for disease epidemiology and risk assessment
52 countries where research with FAO is illuminating the hidden harvests of small-scale fisheries
775 million people highly dependent on marine fisheries, new FISH evidence showed

FISH research contributes directly to 10 SDGs

FISH research contributes to aspects of 3 other SDGs

Research Highlights

Photo by Chosa Mweemba
Production of high quality fingerlings in Zambia.

Where we work

FISH pursues an integrated body of research in six focal countries. Three are in Asia (Bangladesh, Cambodia and Myanmar) and three are in Africa (Nigeria, Tanzania and Zambia). In addition, the program focuses on Egypt as a research hub and training center for our aquaculture capacity development in Africa, and Solomon Islands as a hub for our learning networks on small-scale fisheries governance in the Pacific.

Successes and lessons learned from research are scaled with partners to achieve impact and are being progressively expanded to Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, the Philippines, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Timor-Leste, Uganda and Vietnam.

  • Africa

    • We completed research on integration of fish into foresight studies and fish supply-demand modeling, including landmark publications on sustainable aquaculture growth at Africa regional level and for Zambia, both indicating the essential need for future investment in fisheries and aquaculture.

    • Our participatory engagement with regional and national governments along the four main trade corridors in Southern, Eastern, Central and West Africa led to some significant policy shifts, including fish product standards and trade facilitation. The COMESA Fish Inspection and Certification Facility, which was opened in December 2018 on the Zambia-Zimbabwe-Mozambique border, is one example of outcomes from research that identified challenges impeding cross-border trade, including lengthy customs and bureaucratic formalities at border posts.

    • We designed and tested tablet-based performance assessment tools in several countries, including Egypt. A new partnership with private sector feed manufacturer Skretting was agreed to further develop these tools and extend their use in tilapia aquaculture, with a focus on Africa.

    • We produced new knowledge on gender barriers and implications in fisheries-dependent communities, published in key papers from Malawi and Zambia.

    • Our research on fish disease and biosecurity provided new surveillance and diagnostic techniques and tools for addressing the global challenge from the emerging tilapia lake virus (TiLV). Assistance with the application of these tools was provided to several countries to improve policies for health management, including Egypt and Zambia.

    • Our research fed into a rapid assessment of fish in food systems and value chains in the Great Lakes region, as reported in keynote presentations and a side event at the 6th Pan-African Fish and Fisheries Association conference.

    • Findings from a youth-focused study led by FISH managing partner IWMI in eight focal countries are being published in a brief on youth in fish agri-food systems and a FISH Youth Strategy, due for 2019 release. In addition, actions are being integrated into new youth-focused interventions in the ten-country aquaculture component of the Technologies for African Agriculture Transformation initiative and capacity development in an aquaculture vocational and entrepreneurship training investment in Zambia.

    • We conducted studies in Nigeria to identify entrepreneurship opportunities for women.

  • Asia

    • Improved fish breeds, aquafeeds, fish disease control measures and/or improvements in aquaculture management practices derived from our research continued to be disseminated widely and adopted by fish farm households across Asia, through multiple channels and partnerships.

    • Co-management innovations derived from our research were adopted across large areas of the Meghna river system in Bangladesh and the nationally important hilsa fishery, contributing to substantial gains in productivity and sustainability.

    • In a series of experiments in Bangladesh and Vietnam, our feeds research showed that low-protein, high-energy diets stimulated natural food production in the pond, which compensated not only for the reduced supply of dietary protein but also contributed to higher fish growth.

    • Research on fish in sustainable rice-fish systems and co- organization of a regional symposium led to the Naypyitaw Agreement, a foundation for policy change to enable adoption of integrated rice-fish system innovations by farmers at scale in Myanmar and potentially beyond.

    • Our research with the Government of Odisha, India contributed to policy changes in the state. For example, the Government Policy Corrigendum on Grant of Long-term Lease of Gram Panchayat Tanks for Pisciculture allows communities longer term access to small water bodies for aquaculture.

    • Our technologies and management systems were integrated in climate-smart agriculture initiatives in Bangladesh, Cambodia and Vietnam, leading to several promising climate-smart agriculture innovations for vulnerable communities dependent on aquatic systems. During 2018, a gendered analysis of the learning and outcomes from these investments in Bangladesh was conducted, including drawing out lessons to enhance impacts of climate-smart agriculture investments in Bangladesh on vulnerable women.

    • We completed a study on the adoption of better management practices in Bangladesh. The study, which will be published in 2019, indicated that farmers adopting simple operational improvements had 50 percent higher productivity.

    • Our assessments of potential for sustainable intensification of aquaculture in Bangladesh identified changes in fish farming technology and management that can help make the global transition to more intensive forms of aquaculture more sustainable.

    • Our research made national policy contributions in 10 countries, including Bangladesh, Cambodia, India and Myanmar.

  • Pacific

    • A study conducted with FISH managing partner James Cook University and published in Nature Climate Change contributed a new framework for building adaptive capacity in tropical coastal communities. The framework was subsequently tested through cases in five countries, including Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste.

    • We collaborated with private sector partner Pelagic Data Systems to develop an integrated data pipeline to highlight temporal and spatial changes in production from small-scale fisheries. The proposal was a winner of the CGIAR Platform for Big Data in Agriculture’s 2018 Inspire Challenge, which encourages the use of big data approaches to advance agricultural research and development.

    • We generated new knowledge and collaboration on cross-scale governance mechanisms, with evidence published in key papers focusing on Pacific Island coastal fisheries and Solomon Islands.

    • Our small-scale fisheries researchers facilitated revision of the national fishery law in Timor-Leste governing 75,000 hectares of coastal seas. Forty diverse stakeholder groups across three workshops, and a technical working group across many meetings, saw a 15-year-old fisheries law reduced from 465 articles to 150 and made relevant to the fishery sector, supporting the rights of fishers and promoting nutrition security through fisheries.

    • We conducted youth-focused research in eight focal countries, including Solomon Islands, providing a framework for analyzing youth inclusion and identifying potential interventions for more youth-inclusive aquaculture and fisheries sectors.

    • We tested the ‘light touch’ approach to community-based resource management in Solomon Islands, as a result of which 1137 hectares of marine water area were brought under improved management by 23 communities.

    • Our efforts to support women fishers to participate in decisions about small-scale fisheries, including through the landmark Women Fishers’ Forum, are providing inputs to fisheries policy processes in Timor-Leste.

Stories of Change

Communications and knowledge sharing

Our Partners

Photo by Mohammad Mahabubur Rahman
Hilsa catch, Bangladesh.

Our partners are essential for bringing technologies and innovations to scale and achieving development impact. We work with an extensive network of partners, including international, national, regional and local governmental institutions, universities, private sector organizations and NGOs, who share our commitment to creating positive change for the millions who depend on fish in the developing world.

179 active partnerships

  • 54Academic and research institutions
  • 44Development organizations nongovernmental, networks and regional organizations
  • 32Private sector
  • 12National agricultural research and extension systems or national agricultural research systems
  • 10Governments
  • 7CGIAR
  • 6Community-based organizations and farmer groups
  • 6Foundations and financial institutions
  • 4Bilateral and donor governments
  • 2Multilateral
  • 2Others

Investors and Financials

Photo by Finn Thilsted.
Fish drying, Ngapali beach, Gyeiktaw, Myanmar.

To meet future demand for fish, particularly in developing countries, production will need to double by 2030. The scale of this challenge requires research innovations across the whole spectrum of fisheries and aquaculture production systems and value chains. We are extremely grateful to all our investors who enable us to conduct this vital research. In 2018, FISH had 46 investors, providing a total budget of USD 25.7 million.

Planned budget 2018*
W1/W2** W3/bilateral Total
Sustainable Aquaculture 2,550,247 12,142,658 14,692,905
Sustaining Small-Scale Fisheries 953,055 8,493,894 9,446,949
Cross-program investments 905,366 905,366
FISH management and support costs 703,775 703,775
FISH total 5,112,443 20,636,552 25,748,995
Actual expenditure 2018*
W1/W2** W3/bilateral Total
Sustainable Aquaculture 2,561,474 10,123,797 12,685,271
Sustaining Small-Scale Fisheries 914,526 8,505,735 9,420,261
Cross-program investments 898,823 898,823
FISH management and support costs 678,338 678,388
FISH total 5,053,211 18,629,532 23,682,743
W1/W2** W3/bilateral Total
Sustainable Aquaculture (11,227) 2,018,861 2,007,634
Sustaining Small-Scale Fisheries 38,529 (11,841) 26,688
Cross-program investments 6,543 6,543
FISH management and support costs 25,387 25,387
FISH total 59,232 2,007,020 2,066,252
* 2018 CGIAR System Management Office-approved budget USD 4.86 million + 2017 carry-over USD 252,443 ** For an explanation of windows 1, 2 and 3 funding, please see the CGIAR website *** Source: Audited lead and participating center financial report

FISH people

Photo by Mohammad Shohorab Hossain, WorldFish
8th International Steering Committee Meeting of WorldFish, Bangladesh.

Independent steering committee (ISC)

  • Nigel Preston, ISC Chair, University of Queensland, Australia
  • Editrudith Lukanga, Environmental Management and Economic Development Organization, Tanzania
  • Gareth Johnstone, WorldFish, Malaysia
  • Ian Cowx, University of Hull, United Kingdom
  • M.A. Sattar Mandal, Bangladesh Agricultural University, Bangladesh
  • Marian Kjellevold, Institute of Marine Research, Norway
  • Mark Smith, International Water Management Institute, Sri Lanka
  • Tony Haymet, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Australia

Country directors


  • Harrison Charo Karisa, Country Director, Egypt and Nigeria
  • Sloans Chimatiro, Country Director, Zambia and Tanzania


  • Malcolm Dickson, Country Director, Bangladesh
  • Yumiko Kura, Country Director, Cambodia
  • Michael Akester, Country Director, Myanmar


  • Delvene Boso, Country Director, Solomon Islands

Management Committee (MC)

  • Michael Phillips, MC Chair, Director, CGIAR Research Program on Fish Agri-Food Systems and Aquaculture and Fisheries Sciences, WorldFish
  • Cristiano Rossignoli, Monitoring and Evaluation Leader, WorldFish
  • Cynthia McDougall, Gender Research Leader, WorldFish
  • David Shearer, Director of International Partnerships and Program Delivery, WorldFish
  • Emily Khor, Program Lifecycle Performance Manager, WorldFish
  • Harrison Charo Karisa, Country Director, Egypt and Nigeria, WorldFish
  • Johan Verreth, Head of the Chair Group Aquaculture and Fisheries, Wageningen University & Research
  • John Benzie, Sustainable Aquaculture Program Leader, WorldFish
  • John Linton, Commercial Director, Natural Resources Institute of the University of Greenwich
  • Marc-Antoine Baïssas, Director of Finance and IT Systems (interim), WorldFish
  • Michael Akester, Country Director, Myanmar, WorldFish
  • Philippa Cohen, Resilient Small-Scale Fisheries Program Leader, WorldFish
  • Paola Reale, Research Programs Manager, WorldFish
  • Shakuntala Thilsted, Value Chains and Nutrition Program Leader, WorldFish
  • Sonali S. Sellamuttu, Head of Southeast Asia Office, International Water Management Institute
  • Tana Lala-Pritchard, Director of Communications and Marketing, WorldFish
  • Terry Hughes, Director, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

Managing Partners

Managing Partners