WorldFish Center


Transforming food systems through fish

Photo Credits: WorldFish

Welcome message

WorldFish had a remarkable year in 2018 developing and scaling scientific innovations that support the sustainable transformation of food systems with fish for the benefit of people and the planet.

  • In 2018, we made notable progress toward our ambition to position fish firmly at the heart of discourse, policy and practice currently shaping the global thinking on transforming food systems, paying closer attention to nutrition and healthier diets, and informing the path toward an inclusive and sustainable blue economy.Yvonne PintoBoard Chair
  • The emerging blue economy provides new research, policy and investment opportunities to build a stronger case for fish and to promote evidence-based solutions that work for the health and wellbeing of people and the sustainability of our planet. WorldFish is uniquely positioned among the 15 CGIAR centers to link food systems in land and water through fish and build novel and disruptive public private partnerships.Gareth JohnstoneDirector General

Big splashes in 2018

  • 124 Publications
  • 65 Journal Articles
  • 73% of peer-reviewed Articles Are Open Access
  • 3 Science papers with Altmetric
    Attention Score
  • 626,240 downloads of Publications
  • 52 Countries Included in Illuminating Hidden Harvests Study On the contribution
    of small-scale fisheries
  • USD 17.2 Million invested by our top 5 donors
  • 179 Active partnerships with 86 new ones
  • 27 New Projects
Countries with Fish Genetics Research Platforms in operation
Photo by Filip Milovac/WorldFish

Highlights from 2018

Fish continues to rise on the global development agenda. During 2018, we made a strong case for the role of fish in healthier nutrient-rich diets, increased incomes and improved job and entrepreneurship opportunities, particularly for women and young people, as well as the conservation, protection and restoration of critical natural resources—both on land and below water—by generating and disseminating scientific evidence to shape action, policies and practices for the sustainable development of fisheries and aquaculture.

Photo by Sylyvann Borei/WorldFish

WorldFish and the SDGs

WorldFish is part of the global effort to eradicate poverty, hunger and malnutrition and reverse environmental degradation, as well as many complex global challenges reflected in the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Ten of these SDGs are particularly pivotal to our work and mission. Hover over each SDG icon below to find out how we contribute to these goals.

Globally, approximately 800 million people depend on fisheries and aquaculture for their livelihoods. WorldFish works to create opportunities in sustainable and productive fisheries and aquaculture to help lift out of poverty people who rely on fish for their income, livelihoods and well-being.

Fish offers untapped potential to meet increasing demand for safe, nutritious food by a growing population. By developing fisheries and aquaculture in an environmentally and socially responsible way, WorldFish seeks to improve the availability of and access to diverse, nutrient-rich diets incorporating fish.

Fish, particularly small fish, are rich in micronutrients like vitamin A, iron, calcium, zinc and essential fatty acids. WorldFish strives to make quality fish available and affordable to the poor in developing countries, particularly women and children in the first 1000 days. Our research informs strategies for combating under- and malnutrition and for preventing public health issues, such as stunting and other non-communicable diseases related to poor diets and nutritional deficiencies.

Rural women play a vital role in fisheries and aquaculture as fishers, farmers, processors and traders. However, they often have unequal access to the resources and services they need to be successful. WorldFish works to address gender inequalities and their underlying factors in order to improve the fish-based livelihoods of women, who in turn amplify the benefits of these livelihoods for their children, families and communities.

WorldFish research shows that adopting new technologies alone is not enough to improve productivity. Using natural resources efficiently, pursuing innovation and having access to knowledge, networks or credit to invest in business and other entrepreneurial activities, especially for poor women and youth, are also vital and central to our contribution to this SDG, particularly in Small Island Developing States.

WorldFish works closely with national actors to enhance local capacities for scientific research and technological innovation in fisheries and aquaculture. We also support the integration of small-scale fish producers and enterprises into national, regional and global value chains and markets.

In the face of a growing world population and the impacts of climate change, there is an increasing imperative to do more and better with less. WorldFish works to achieve sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources and to reduce waste and loss along fish value chains.

Overfishing, ineffective management practices, industrial development, agricultural pollution and the impacts of climate change have reduced fish stocks. WorldFish conducts cutting-edge genetics research on improved and resilient fish species and promotes a sustainable approach to fisheries and aquaculture to ensure that enough nutritious fish are available for future generations.

Ensuring that all users benefit equitably from marine and aquatic resources requires new thinking, new information and greater collaboration between less traditional partners. Among the 15 members of the CGIAR, WorldFish is uniquely positioned to contribute to this SDG. We focus on generating evidence-based solutions that inform policies and practices relating to sustainable ocean governance and the development of an inclusive and people-centered blue economy, with special attention for the value and contribution of small-scale fisheries.

Many land-based activities, such as pollution, plastics, deforestation and livestock waste, are affecting, altering or destroying oceans, lakes and other inland aquatic ecosystems and habitats. Preserving life below water (SDG 14) also requires the adoption of environmentally sustainable practices on land. WorldFish research is informing interventions to reduce waste and loss in fish handling and processing, to conserve and restore degraded ecosystems in inland and coastal environments and to develop gender-responsive practices and technologies for innovative small-scale aquaculture systems with low environmental impact.

From research to impact

Crosscutting impacts

Photo by Habibul Haque/WorldFish

Living our values

WorldFish is founded on the values of integrity and trust, fairness and equity, excellence and innovation, and teamwork and partnership. In 2018, we launched several initiatives that support our commitment to living our values across the organization.

  • Integrity and Trust

    We are honest, open and accountable with the resources invested in us, and we deliver on our commitments.

  • Fairness and Equity

    We respect and celebrate diversity and actively challenge social and gender inequities that impede progress toward our goals.

  • Excellence and Innovation

    We pursue high standards of scientific and professional rigor and embrace impartial evaluation, critical reflection, learning and adaptation.

  • Teamwork and Partnership

    We seek to leverage our complementary strengths within teams and across institutional boundaries to achieve the greatest impact.

  • Saying no to single-use plastics

    We successfully ran an internal campaign to raise awareness about the impact of single-use plastics and eliminate them in the office.
  • Gender equality in the workplace

    We increased the number of women in science to just under 40 percent and in management to 60 percent.
  • Innovation and learning lab

    A data-driven methodology is addressing challenges in project start-up and delivery, with notable improvements reported.
  • Building science capacity and quality

    Science capacity was a priority in 2018, with a target of increasing science staff by 20 percent.
  • Monitoring and evaluation

    The adoption of a monitoring, evaluation and learning platform is improving our overall research management capacities.
  • Fish for thought

    Our revamped Fish for Thought events are facilitating knowledge sharing and learning across science disciplines and geographies.

Communicating science knowledge and evidence

A comprehensive communications and marketing strategy driven by a stronger focus on new and digital media is raising the profile of our research evidence.

  • 626,240 downloads of WorldFish publications
  • 667.5 million total media reach
  • 264,761 visitors to the WorldFish website
  • 265,881 views of our videos
  • 746 stories about WorldFish and our work in the news

We believe that effective communication of our research and the scientific evidence we produce is critical for making a difference to the people whose livelihoods, in both the developing and developed world, depend on and are shaped by fish. Those who support our work understand through communication that our research is relevant because it helps shape solutions to many pressing development challenges. At the same time, effective communication enables others to translate our science into actions from discourse and advocacy to practice and policy.

Read more
Photo by WorldFish

Publications highlights

The following is a selection of key publications from 2018. Find all our publications and research outputs online.

  • Building adaptive capacity to climate change in tropical coastal communities

    Nature Climate Change 8:117–123.

    To minimize the impacts of climate change on human well-being, governments, development agencies and civil society organizations have made substantial investments in improving people’s capacity to adapt. To date, these investments have tended to focus on a very narrow understanding of adaptive capacity. Here, the authors propose a new approach to build adaptive capacity across five domains.

    Cinner JE, Adger WN, Allison EH, Barnes ML, Brown K, Cohen PJ, Gelcich S, Hicks CC, Hughes TP, Lau J et al. 2018.
    Journal Impact Factor19.181
  • Wealthy countries dominate industrial fishing

    Science Advances 4(8):eaau2161.

    This article reports patterns of industrial fishing effort for vessels flagged to higher- and lower-income nations, using analyses of high-resolution fishing vessel activity data. Insights from these analyses can strategically inform important international- and national-level efforts to ensure equitable and sustainable sharing of fisheries.

    McCauley DJ, Jablonicky C, Allison EH, Golden CD, Joyce FH, Mayorga, J and Kroodsma D. 2018.
    Journal Impact Factor11.511
  • Measuring the potential for sustainable intensification of aquaculture in Bangladesh using life-cycle assessment

    PNAS 115(12):2958–2963.

    Life-cycle assessment is operationalized here as a tool to evaluate a range of environmental impacts resulting from the intensification of aquaculture production in Bangladesh and a subset of trade-offs among them. These findings are used to identify simple improvements in farm management practices that can make the intensification of aquaculture more sustainable and avoid some of the environmental pitfalls of agriculture and livestock production.

    Henriksson PJG, Belton B, Jahan KM, Rico A. 2018.
    Journal Impact Factor9.504
  • Mapping global human dependence on marine ecosystems

    Conversation Letters 12(2):e12617.

    The authors created a new conceptual model to map the degree of human dependence on marine ecosystems based on the magnitude of the benefit, susceptibility of people to a loss of that benefit and the availability of alternatives. The model showed that more than 775 million people are highly dependent on marine fisheries, providing the basis for more targeted management and policy interventions for vulnerable small-scale fishing communities.

    Selig ER, Hole DG, Allison EH, Arkema KK, McKinnon MC, Chu J, de Sherbinin A, Fisher B, Glew L, Holland MB et al. 2018.
    Journal Impact Factor7.279
  • Tilapia lake virus: a threat to the global tilapia industry?

    Reviews in Aquaculture 1–15.

    Tilapia lake virus (TiLV) is a recently described virus affecting wild and farmed tilapines. Currently, there are severe knowledge gaps relating to TiLV and no effective, affordable vaccines available. This paper summarizes the published scientific information on TiLV and highlights important issues relating to its diagnosis, mitigation and control measures.

    Jansen MD, Ha TD, Mohan CV. 2018.
    Journal Impact Factor7.139
Photo by Fani Llauradó

Our Partners

Our work is rooted in multidisciplinary science and food systems thinking. It is guided by national priorities and the capacity development needed to improve agricultural research and extension systems; it is enhanced by our unique ability to convene and broker novel partnerships with development actors and the private sector as a mechanism to take innovations through to impact at scale.

  • Foundations and financial institutions6
  • Governments10
  • Multilateral2
  • National agricultural research and extension systems or national agricultural research systems12
  • Private sector32
  • Others2
179active partnerships
  • 54Academic and research institutions
  • 4Bilateral and donor governments
  • 6Community-based organizations and farmer groups
  • 7CGIAR
  • 44Development organizations nongovernmental, networks and regional organizations
Photo by Manjurul Karim/WorldFish

Our Investors

Our work is funded by an extensive network of investors committed to tackling specific challenges within the global 2030 sustainable development agenda. Thanks to their generous support, we are helping to eradicate poverty, hunger and malnutrition among the millions of people who depend on fish for food, nutrition and income in the developing world.

    Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research
    United States Agency for International Development
  • LIFT
    Livelihoods and Food Security Fund
  • Norway Ministry of Foreign Affairs
    Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • GIZ
    Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit
  • Norad
    The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation
  • OAK Foundation
    OAK Foundation
  • SDC
    Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft
  • Save The Children
    Save The Children
  • Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Photo by Chris Bene/WorldFish

Financial Overview

Statement of financial position (USD ‘000)
As of 31 Dec 2018 As of 31 Dec 2017
Cash and cash equivalents 10,555 14,614
Account receivable 6,100 4,026
Other current assets 277 253
Capital assets 516 605
Total assets 17,448 19,498
Accounts payable 6,653 8,154
Accruals and provisions 1,480 1,089
Other current liabilities 57 45
Non-current liabilities 430 473
Total Liabilities 8,620 9,737
Net Assets 8,828 9,737
Total Liabilities and Net Assets 17,448 19,498
Statement of operating activities (USD ‘000)
For the years ended December 31 2018 2017
Grants 29,070 24,718
Other income 223 997
Total revenue 29,293 25,715
Research 19,261 17,093
Administration, support and other 10,941 8,647
Total Expenses 30,202 25,740
Net Deficit (909) (25)

WorldFish expenditure by region, 2018

  • South Asia21%
  • Southeast Asia55%
  • Pacific6%
  • Central and West Asia and North Africa6%
  • Sub-Saharan Africa12%

WorldFish expenditure by cost category, 2018

  • Personnel costs40%
  • Collaborators costs21%
  • Supplies and services33%
  • Travel6%
Photo by WorldFish

Our Team

Board of Trustees

  • Yvonne Pinto, Board Chair, Agricultural Learning and Impact Network (ALINe), United Kingdom


  • Ayman Anwar Ammar, Central Laboratory for Aquaculture Research (CLAR), Egypt
  • Baba Yusuf Abubakar, Board Vice-Chair, University of Abuja, Nigeria
  • Abdou Tenkouano, West and Central Africa Council for Agriculture Research and Development (CORAF), Senegal


  • Tony Haymet, Chair of the Governance Committee, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Australia
  • Hee Kong Yong, Chair of the Audit Committee, ASEAN Advisory, Malaysia
  • YBhg. Dato’Haji Munir Haji Mohd Nawi, Department of Fisheries, Malaysia


  • Anthony Long, Chair of the Governance Committee, Belgium (resigned 7 May 2018)
  • Gareth Johnstone, ex-officio member, Director General, WorldFish

North America

  • Cristina Rumbaitis del Rio, independent consultant, United States (joined 1 October 2018)

Executive Team

  • Gareth Johnstone, Director General
  • Michael Phillips, Director, CGIAR Research Program on Fish Agri-Food Systems and Aquaculture and Fisheries Sciences
  • Zarinah Davies, Director of Human Resources and Administration
  • David Shearer ,Director of International Partnerships and Program Delivery
  • Tana Lala-Pritchard, Director of Communications and Marketing
  • Marc-Antoine Baïssas, Director of Finance and IT Systems (interim)

Global research leaders

  • John Benzie, Sustainable Aquaculture Program Leader
  • Philippa Cohen, Resilient Small-scale Fisheries Program Leader
  • Shakuntala Thilsted, Value Chains and Nutrition Program Leader
  • Cynthia McDougall, Gender Research Leader
  • Cristiano Rossignoli, Monitoring and Evaluation Leader

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