Fish Nights: promoting knowledge and inspiring change in fisheries

IIED's regular Fish Night events bring together people from academia, government, NGOs, fisherworkers’ collectives, associations and networks, and the media to discuss issues around sustainable fisheries, aquaculture and oceans.

Inclusive blue economy
A programme of work supporting resilient marine and coastal ecosystems and the millions of people who depend on them to thrive by aligning incentives with investments
Two small boats full of fishers on the water.

Local fishers in East Timor. IIED's Fish Nights have focused on small-scale fisheries and sustainable subsidies (Photo: Dave Mills, WorldFish, via FlickrCC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Since 2013, IIED has organised a series of events designed to tackle some of the world's biggest issues concerning sustainable fisheries, aquaculture, human impact on oceans, and marine and coastal ecosystems.

So far, there have been seven Fish Night events that have brought together world-leading marine experts, government representatives and relevant stakeholders in fishery governance aiming to demystify complex theories and scientific findings. This is based upon the belief that by making the findings accessible to policymakers and consumers, they can promote informed decision-making and fisheries literacy.

The events also create space to share hard-earned lessons and are intended to inspire change to create fisheries that work today and into the future.

The events have focused on a wide range of topics such as:

  • The deep sea and the impacts of human activities on this fragile environment
  • Sustainable fisheries and subsidies designed to benefit marine and coastal ecosystems
  • The impact on biodiversity of the governance of the high seas, and
  • The launch of the online platform FishNet.

Previous Fish Nights

Fish Night 8 | Keeping up momentum for artisanal fisheries and aquaculture

This Fish Night event took place in March 2023. We discussed how to keep up global support and attention on small-scale, artisanal fisheries and aquaculture, after the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture (IYAFA).

Fish Night 7 | Gender equality in the seafood value chain

This event on 8 March 2021 coincided with International Women's Day. We discussed the importance of women in the seafood industry, the impacts of challenges such as COVID-19 and climate change on women, and how gender equality can be championed in the sustainable blue recovery.

Fish Night 6 | Wonders of the deep blue

This Fish Night event, organised in November 2019, featured Dr Diva Amon, a Marie Skłodowska-Curie research fellow at the Natural History Museum in London, and dived into a mysterious marine habitat – the deep ocean – to explore what the latest research is uncovering about the delicate ecosystems more than 2,000m under sea level, and the impacts that human actions are having on these unique environments.

Fish Night 5 | Can subsidies work for fish and for people?

IIED held its fifth Fish Night event in October 2018, with professor Rashid Sumaila, professor and director of the Fisheries Economics Research Unit at the University of British Columbia's Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries. He spoke about the ways to make sure subsidies designed to benefit the fishing sector don’t work to the detriment of smaller fisheries.

Fish night 4 | Governing our high seas. Why now?

IIED's fourth Fish Night event, held in December 2016, looked at the high seas and biodiversity with skipper and ocean plastics expert Emily Penn. Penn shared insights ranging from her experiences on the high seas to low lying islands.

She also delved into the issue of ocean plastic pollution, from rigorous scientific analysis to developing solutions involving large-scale community involvement. Listen to an audio recording of Fish Night 4:

Fish Night 3 | Hilsa fisheries in Bangladesh

This event was organised by IIED's partner International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCAD) and took place in Bangladesh in 2015. The third Fish Night event was run as part of our joint efforts to protect hilsa fish from overfishing. 

Fish Night 2 | Finance for sustainable fisheries

Fish Night 2 focused on alternative financing mechanisms for sustainable fisheries, with a focus on what governments and the private sector could do to promote sustainable fisheries.

IIED's chief economist, Paul Steele, examined government policies affecting fisheries while Simon Dent, of investment fund Althelia Ecosphere, outlined the potential of private sector 'impact investments' as a mechanism for promoting sustainable fisheries.

Fish Night 1 | Fishy business

The first event of the Fish Night series, organised in November 2013, launched the online network FishNet, which IIED's Shaping Sustainable Markets research group created to promote increased understanding and appropriate management for sustainable fisheries. This was later transferred to become a Facebook group.

The first Fish Night also saw the launch of two publications on economic incentives for sustainable fisheries management and marine and coastal conservation. Keynote speaker Phil Burgess, from the Global Ocean Commission, summarised in a sentence the challenge of governing the oceans in an equitable way: "Half of the world belongs to all of the world, and the benefits need to be shared fairly."