This post summarizes our projects to help fish in countries other than India, our current main program. FWI’s international work is enabled by local team members and volunteers who explore opportunities to improve fishes’ lives—we are grateful for their dedication.
Focus and exploration
We believe that a strong focus helps us achieve more impact. Thus, 85% of our work focuses on helping farmed fish in India. However, fish welfare is a developing field, and we don’t fully understand the opportunities and challenges present in other countries yet. These could have low-hanging fruit—easily implemented projects, partners who want to work on fish welfare, or local talent ready for fish advocacy work. As such, we spend the remaining 15% of our staff time and energy on international (i.e., non-India) projects focused on one or all of the following goals.
Help fish by finding and taking up low-hanging fruit (i.e., easily implementable opportunities).
Build the fish advocacy movement through evaluating less-represented countries and setting up relationships for future local programs.
Build capacity by nurturing local talent.
Explore different approaches and systems.
Our international projects
In the past 1.5 years, we ran projects in China, the Philippines, and the UK. We also explored fish welfare in Recirculatory Aquaculture Systems and collaborated with an aquaculture research station in Portugal.
Projects: Our China Scoping Contractor, Isla Gibson, conducted initial scoping work in late 2020. In April 2021, we hired our China Specialist, Lu Chen, to explore opportunities for farmed fish in China. She has since built a considerable network of partners and stakeholders.
Achievements: We published the China scoping report in December 2020. In May 2021, the International Cooperation Committee of Animal Welfare (ICCAW) invited FWI to host the first aquatic animal welfare forum at the World Conference for Farmed Animal Welfare (WCFAW). This conference is an important meeting point for Chinese stakeholders in animal agriculture, policy, and government. In preparation for the conference, Lu has built relationships with Chinese nonprofits and academics relevant to fish advocacy in China.
2022 Plans: COVID-19 safety guidelines permitting, we will host the aquatic animal welfare forum at the WCFAW. We also intend to formalize 1- and 3-year plans for working in China, look into the policy opportunities for fish welfare, and meet 12 new aquaculture stakeholders. We are considering a 2-3 month field visit in China if COVID-19 guidelines allow travel.
Projects: Our Philippines Scoping Contractor, Ethel Wagas, first explored opportunities to help fish in the Philippines in 2020. In 2021, we hired two Philippines Specialist Interns, Chiawen Chiang and Sophia Tabanao, who built relationships with animal welfare advocates, environmental organizations, and fish farmers. Chiawen, Sophia, and Olivia Webb, a local volunteer, explored several avenues of impact and involved three further volunteers in their projects. This local arm of FWI operates under the name Makaisda.
Achievements: We published the Philippines scoping report in December 2020. In 2021, Makaisda met with nonprofit and industry stakeholders to understand the aquaculture landscape in the Philippines. They also connected with four fish farmers to plan a future pilot study and organized a webinar on fish welfare. To facilitate future fish advocacy work in the Philippines, Makaisda runs a talent database.
2022 Plans: Makaisda plans to implement welfare improvements with two farms, explore the possibility of fish welfare training modules in collaboration with the government, and scout out new talent.
A fish pond in Ayungon -- one of the areas we visited during our scoping work in the Philippines.
Projects: We assisted the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation (CAWF) in launching their fish welfare campaign. This project was policy-focused and aimed at achieving legal protection for aquatic animals.
Achievements: Publication of the CAWF: Fish Welfare Report and the CAWF: Fish Sentience Briefing. Both sparked a public conversation around the treatment of aquatic animals in the UK (e.g., see here), and the welfare report has even made its way into the French Reference Centre for Animal Welfare. The CAWF has since been in contact with policy stakeholders to encourage aquatic animal welfare legislation.
2022 Plans: We will continue to be in touch with CAWF and assist them with their campaign as needed.
Portugal: On-Farm Consultation
Projects: Throughout 2021, our Fish Welfare Specialist, Dr. Cerqueira, visited the Portuguese Aquaculture Experimental Station (EPPO, Olhão) to explore opportunities to improve fish welfare in EPPO’s ten fish ponds containing seabream, seabass, meagre, and white seabream. Dr. Cerqueira recommended a set of interventions (see here) that staff at EPPO readily implemented.
Achievements: The successfully implemented welfare interventions likely improved the lives of all 56,296 fish on this farm. We expect EPPO staff to continue implementing these changes and thus improve the lives of more fish in future production cycles.
2022 Plans: We will continue monitoring the condition of the fish at EPPO and assist with implementing our recommendations when necessary.
One of the ponds at the Portuguese Aquaculture Experimental Station in Olhão, Portugal.
You can always follow the progress on our 2022 goals here.