Image by Toby Sakata
HELP IMPROVE THE LIVES OF BILLIONS OF FISH

We work to improve the lives of farmed fish by identifying high-impact welfare improvements, and then implementing them through government, corporate, and farmer partners—with the ultimate goal of improving the lives of billions of fish. Your support is a fundamental part of achieving that impact.

 

To learn more, see our FAQ.

HOW TO DONATE

For donations of $1,000 or more, or to make a tax-deductible donation in the UK, India, or the Netherlands see below.

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is your current funding gap?

We’re currently looking to raise about $400,000 to fill the remainder of our 2022 budget.

 

What will you do with this money?

Additional funding right now will be spent roughly as follows:

  • ~90% to support fish welfare work in India

  • ~5% to support early-stage fish welfare work in the Philippines

  • ~5% to support early-stage fish welfare work in China

In India, our scaleup plan involves working with aquafarmers to develop improved welfare standards, as well as working with corporations and various government entities to incentivize and scale up these changes on the ground. For an example of our current work in India, see our Alliance for Responsible Aquaculture and our corporate commitment with SAGE. We hope to share more about our work in China and the Philippines shortly, although both are still small-scale and early stage.

You can see the specific outcomes you would likely be enabling by supporting our work in our 2022 Objectives and Key Results (see how we did with our 2021 OKRs for comparison). Other useful documents may be found on our transparency page.

 

How cost-effective is a donation to Fish Welfare Initiative?

In 2021, we believe we directly improved the lives of about 210,000 fish, with a budget of about $300,000. To learn more about how we calculated this figure, see Our Impact. That’s currently in the rough order of magnitude of 1 fish helped per dollar.

While we think cost-effectiveness is an important factor that should be considered when evaluating the promise of an organization, we’d like to highlight some caveats:

  • We are not certain the magnitude of which we have helped these fish. This is in fact one of our key uncertainties, and we currently believe that our welfare improvements are not as impactful as we would like them to be. Developing improved welfare standards is thus one of our key priorities for 2022.

  • We hope and expect our cost-effectiveness to be much higher once we scale up. Currently, we are primarily working at the farm level which means we have to expend significant resources to reach a single farm. Long term, with corporations and governmental entities we intend to be working more upstream.

  • There are many values that organizations can bring that are not reflected in cost-effectiveness estimates. For instance, we think one of the significant, less tangible values in our work is the precedent for fish welfare in aquaculture that it sets.

Outside of impact and cost-effectiveness, what are the best arguments for donating to FWI? 

Donors may also be interested in supporting FWI for the following reasons:
 

  • Precedent setting: We are one of the first organizations to work to improve fish welfare, and one of the first organizations to engage Indian corporations and policymakers on this issue. We are also the first organization to secure a corporate commitment for fish in India. We believe that the work we do lays the foundation for significant future impact to come after. 
     

  • Movement building in Asia: 90% of fish, as well as the majority of terrestrial animals, are farmed in Asia. We thus believe it is critical to launch locally-led movements in Asian countries to address the suffering facing these animals, and to expand the animal movement by bringing in new people. We are proud to have hired a local team in India as well as contractors in China and the Philippines. We are also proud that most of these people did not work in animal protection previously, and are now more likely to have careers helping animals even after they leave FWI.

What are the best arguments against donating to FWI?

You made it this far, so we’re assuming you already believe that fish have significant moral value (if not, see Brown 2014). Putting this objection aside, we think the following are the best arguments against donating to FWI:

  • Lack of precedent: There is very little precedent for our work, especially compared to something like cage-free campaigns for chickens. Few organizations have done fish welfare work previously, and even fewer in a middle-income country like India.

  • Lack of experience: Our leadership team has relatively less experience than that of most of our peer organizations.

  • Possibly inadequate welfare standards: Our current welfare standards, while theoretically promising, are not proving as impactful in the field as we would like them to be (though we have only been implementing and measuring them since June 2021). For instance, the stocking density reductions our partner farmers are making in the ARA do not currently appear to be having a significant impact on water quality, likely because they are too small (on average, our partner farmers reduce their stocking densities by 1-8%). Improving our welfare standards is our main priority for 2022.

  • Unclear scaleup mechanism: We intend to work at a level where we can affect many farms, without having to visit each one individually. However, although we have plans for how to do this, it will likely be difficult and we haven’t figured it out yet.


We are working hard to resolve these and the other challenges we face. Likely for the next 1-3 years, we believe that FWI should best be thought of as a higher-risk, higher reward donation opportunity.

Why would producers want to transition to higher welfare practices?

There are a couple factors that lead producers to want to transition:

 

  • Economic benefit: The practices we are recommending (improved water quality and stocking densities) have some benefit for farmers: Farmers understand better than anyone that improved water quality leads to fewer diseases and lower mortality rates, as exemplified by the fact that some currently pay for (irregular) water quality testing. We believe that stocking density reductions lead to a more stable operation for farmers: fewer fish, feed, and antimicrobials are needed (lowering expenses), less labor is needed, and farms are less likely to experience catastrophic disease outbreaks and die-offs, thus mitigating two issues that currently plague Indian aquaculture.
     

  • Supportive field staff: Our field staff live and work in the same or nearby communities as the farmers, and build up trust with them. Our field staff are also there for the farmers when other people are not, such as when figuring out how to mitigate a disease outbreak.
     

  • Pride in doing the right thing: Indian farmers take a great deal of pride in their position as those who feed the country, and are held in high regard by Indian society. Many thus take pride in doing the right thing for animals and for society, and are interested in adopting best practices.
     

  • Corporate procurement: We’re currently working to establish market linkages such that corporations procure from farmers. This would incentivize farmers to transition practices, either because of the price premium corporations may pay for fish welfare or the stability of purchasing corporations bring.
     

  • Government incentives: Over the next few years, we hope to create government incentives (e.g. insurance subsidies) for farmers to transition to higher welfare practices.

Improve the lives of billions of fish? Is that even possible?

We dream big, but yes, we certainly think so. This is partly a testament to the vast scope of aquaculture: smaller farms hold thousands of fish, while the largest ones hold over a million. Therefore, with fish, even working at just the farm level means that you can impact the lives of a massive number of individuals. Going further, partnering with institutions such as corporations and NGOs allows us to impact a massive number of farms, each with thousands or more fish (analogously, see the impact of cage-free corporate advocacy for chickens). Over the course of years, this upstream approach is how we aim to improve the lives of billions of fish.

 

Is FWI a registered charity?

Yes, we have registered organizations in both the US and India.
 
In the US, Fish Welfare Initiative is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization (#85-2065536). Your donation is tax-deductible in the US to the extent allowable by law.
 
In India, Fish Welfare Initiative India Foundation is registered under Section 8 of the Companies Act. Your donation is also tax-deductible in India to the extent allowable by law, although we are still working on setting up our INR donation processing system.

I would like to make a tax-deductible donation in a country that is not the US. How do I do that?

Currently, donations to Fish Welfare Initiative may only be tax-deductible in the US, UK, the Netherlands, and India. For your donation to be tax-deductible in the UK or the Netherlands, you will need to donate through the Effective Altruism Funds.

We plan to publish shortly how you can make a tax-deductible donation from India.

I’m interested in making a donation of $1,000 or more to FWI. What should I do?

You should reach out to us so that we can ensure that FWI is a good organizational fit for you and that if so, you make your donation via the most efficient avenue. This is in part to avoid the processing fees (4.4% if done via credit card) of our donation processing platform.

I would like to mail a check. How should I do that?

Checks should be mailed to the following address:

Fish Welfare Initiative Attn: Nick Hollman, Trustee

5760 Bittersweet Pl.

Madison, Wisconsin 53705

USA

 

Which other organizations should I support?

Our team members are proud to support the work of ACE-recommended and GiveWell-recommended organizations, and we encourage you to do the same. Other organizations that our team members individually support include Family Empowerment Media, Development Media International, Lead Exposure Elimination Project, and Clean Energy Innovation program. We believe in the impact of these organizations and aim to replicate their successes.

 

I have another question not discussed here, or would like more information.

Then you should contact us. We’re very happy to chat candidly about the pros and cons of a donation to Fish Welfare Initiative.

Thank you for your support!