In the young half-island nation of Timor-Leste, fisheries are small-scale and have low catch rates, meaning fish is an underexploited source of nutrition and protein that can help combat the country’s high rate of malnutrition. 

By 2025, African governments hope that 40% of the total fish consumed in Africa will be met by aquaculture. Ongoing research and training provided by the WorldFish-run Africa Aquaculture Research and Training Center in Egypt will be critical to achieving this goal. Since opening in 1998, the center has developed a faster-growing strain of Nile tilapia and trained over 1690 individuals from 105 countries in aquaculture techniques.

In this five-minute interview, Dr. Blake Ratner, Director General of WorldFish, explains the organization’s six-year strategy (2017–2022) to deliver on its mission – to strengthen livelihoods and enhance food and nutrition security by improving fisheries and aquaculture. WorldFish pursues this through research partnerships focused on sustainable aquaculture, resilient small-scale fisheries, and enhancing the contributions of fish to nutrition of the poor in developing countries.

In Bangladesh, many poor fishers struggle to cope during the government-imposed hilsa fishing ban. Boosting the resilience of the communities whose livelihoods depend on hilsa (also known as ilish), the national fish of Bangladesh, is therefore the goal of the USAID-funded Enhanced Coastal Fisheries in Bangladesh (ECOFISH Bangladesh) project. Since 2014, the project has established 280 hilsa conservation groups in 81 villages, and is training women in new livelihood activities such as vegetable gardening.

Fishing is often seen as a man’s domain, meaning in developing countries that women’s contributions often go unseen and women are excluded from decisions on small-scale fisheries governance. Dr Pip Cohen, Program Leader of the Resilient Small-Scale Fisheries Research Program at WorldFish, explains how WorldFish works to overcome these barriers.

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