Sustainable Fishery Advocates

Advancing leadership in sustainable seafood.

aka FishWise   |   Santa Cruz, CA   |


To sustain our ocean ecosystems and the people who depend on them through transforming global seafood supply chains.

Ruling year info


Chief Executive Officer

Mr. Tobias Aguirre

Main address

PO Box 233

Santa Cruz, CA 95061 USA

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NTEE code info

Fisheries (D33)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

People around the world rely on healthy oceans for food, livelihood, and the well-being of the environments in which they live. However, exploitive seafood sourcing practices jeopardize the oceans and the people that depend on them.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Business Engagement

FishWise has worked with seafood companies for over 18 years to champion industry leaders in seafood sustainability. Through its long-term partnerships with retailers, from small, independent grocers to major corporations, FishWise provides trusted guidance and pragmatic tools for companies to implement credible and comprehensive sustainable seafood programs.

Through a partnership approach, FishWise:
● Develops pragmatic solutions for addressing environmental, traceability, and social challenges
● Offers comprehensive risk assessments and sustainability analyses to empower companies to identify risks and make measurable progress towards identified goals
● Provides tailored support for companies to communicate their efforts to their customers, ultimately driving sales of their products

Population(s) Served

With a team dedicated to social compliance & worker-centric practices, FishWise is unique among sustainable seafood & marine conservation organizations. Media exposés have uncovered egregious human rights abuses in seafood production and at sea. FishWise guides companies to plan and implement ethical practices through connecting social and environmental experts, generating guidance and resources, and convening stakeholders to inform the seafood sector. FishWise encourages the seafood industry to prioritize their investments around three things that will reduce vulnerability for workers - Responsible Recruitment, Decent Work at Sea, and Worker Engagement.

For NGO and industry partners, FishWise:
● Provides an online roadmap (RISE) and concrete tools for social responsibility
● Conducts human rights risk assessments of seafood companies’ supply chains
● Establishes supplier engagement strategies to address high-risk sourcing
● Liaises, convenes, and cultivates strong alliances

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people

FishWise develops practical data collection, verification, & transparency guidance to ensure that seafood is legally and ethically sourced. Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing is a global problem that imperils the survival of threatened species, undermines government efforts to sustainably manage marine resources, and impacts law-abiding seafood businesses. Industry, governments, and NGOs in the sector are increasingly turning to traceability as a tool to overcome these challenges.

For government, NGO, and industry partners, FishWise:
● Engages one-on-one with companies to set ambitious goals, implemented through due diligence plans
● Builds global alliances for knowledge exchange and action to promote legal, traceable, and sustainable fisheries like the Seafood Alliance for Legality and Traceability (SALT)
● Produces in-depth resources and shares experience working with diverse stakeholders to encourage a holistic understanding of the challenges and opportunities

Population(s) Served
Migrant workers

Where we work

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Healthy oceans are vitally important as a source of food and livelihoods, and for the well-being of the planet as a whole. FishWise envisions a world with a plentiful seafood supply that makes a significant contribution to the food needs of a growing population, while supporting biodiverse, productive, and resilient marine and freshwater ecosystems. We work toward a seafood industry that is fully traceable, supporting sustainable, legal, and ethical trade. By helping businesses and governments to take concrete steps toward ambitious but achievable goals, FishWise is leading the transition to a sustainability and responsible seafood industry.

FishWise works closely with seafood companies to address some of the most pressing environmental and social issues in seafood. We believe that while the seafood industry can have serious negative impacts on aquatic resources and the welfare of seafood workers, it also has the potential to make an enormous contribution to the health of our oceans and the well being of the people who depend on seafood for their livelihoods. Therefore, in partnership with industry, we develop, test, implement, and broadcast environmentally and socially responsible business practices to advance our mission. Our close collaboration with seafood retailers, mid-supply chain companies, and producers has allowed FishWise to enact sound and measurable changes in their respective business practices, enhance our own credibility and reputation, and build a rich body of experiences from which FishWise, our partners, and our colleagues may draw to advance leadership in the field. Because we have built trusting relationships with our industry partners, we have come to be considered as thought leaders not only on what must be done, but also how it can be done in practice, where barriers exist, and how to overcome them.

Our vision of industry transformation requires holistic change -- where the seafood industry prospers by assuming responsibility for the long-term sustainability of ocean ecosystems and for the fair and equitable treatment of seafood workers. With over 18 years of experience moving the needle with and through industry partners, we also recognize the importance of adaptive approaches to maximize impact and achieve durable change.

FishWise employs three core interrelated strategies to transform seafood supply chains - Direct Supply Chain Engagement, Collective Industry Engagement, and Governance Reform.

Direct Supply Chain Engagement
What: FishWise works in partnership with individual companies across the seafood supply chain to advance each organization’s specific efforts to address environmental, social, illegal fishing, and traceability risks in their business and across their supply base.
When: An industry actor is willing to lead and has leverage or influence over others in the industry.
Why: Progress towards transformational change requires first movers and then a critical mass to follow once an example is set - we directly engage with the supply chain to set the example, test solutions, and normalize progressive business practices.

Collective Industry Engagement
What: FishWise works with coalitions of industry, NGOs, and other stakeholders to drive and scale change across groups of supply chain actors. This includes directly convening groups or supporting and collaborating with preexisting groups.
When: Individual companies have collective leverage with governing bodies and broader industry through coalitions, collaboration, and shared goals.
Why: Many systemic sustainability challenges go beyond one company’s supply chain control – for these, we convene willing leaders to catalyze/pressure others and scale impact.

Governance Reform
What: FishWise works in strategic partnerships to inform governments and regulatory bodies responsible for setting the rules all supply chain actors must follow to ensure compliance and accountability for all.
When: Policy and legislation is needed to create change, industry is lagging or government has leverage over industry, and FishWise has applicable industry experience.
Why: Institutionalizing sustainability in the long term can only come by raising the legislative bar and setting new norms; we bridge market and government actors to accelerate this systems change.

Since its inception in 2002, and driven by the proliferation of diverse approaches in the sustainable seafood movement, FishWise has developed a culture and practice of collaboration that brings these approaches together in more unified alliances, strategies, projects, and tools.

Through the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions, FishWise collaborates with more than 40 leading conservation and human/labor rights organizations from around the world to pursue a Common Vision for Sustainable Seafood. As a founding organization, FishWise has been a highly engaged and active participant in the Alliance since its inception by leveraging our industry and other networks to increase alignment on goals, targets, and tools for sustainable seafood market interventions.

In addition to FishWise’s long term participation in the Alliance, FishWise has also built an extensive network of industry, government, and NGO colleagues. Our staff serve on many influential advisory councils and committees related to sustainable seafood, and consult with other marine conservation organizations around the world. Some of these include:
Environmental Stakeholder Committee, International Sustainable Seafood Foundation
FMI Seafood Strategy Committee
Global Tuna Alliance
Science Based Targets Network Ocean’s Hub (intent to join)
NGO External Stakeholder Advisory Group, Shrimp Sustainable Supply Chain Task Force
Sea Alliance
Seafood Legacy
Seafood Task Force
Seafood Working Group Advisory Body
World Benchmarking Alliance
Fishery Progress FIP Social Advisory Committee
U.S. IUU/LR NGO Coalition

In terms of accelerating learning and innovation, FishWise has played an important convening and liaison role in bringing together the government, industry, marine conservation and labor NGOs to inform new strategies and tools for implementing traceability, and for combatting human trafficking, labor abuses, equity, and other issues in seafood supply chains. These efforts include presentations at international fora like the Seafood and Fisheries Emerging Technologies conference, The Economist World Oceans Summit, the World Fisheries Congress, and FAO Blue Ports Initiative.

For nearly twenty years, FishWise has worked closely with the seafood industry to advance leadership in sustainability. By convening government, industry, and civil society organizations to advance traceability and human rights in seafood supply chains, FishWise has also become an authority on seafood social responsibility. Today, FishWise continues to work alongside its retail partners, including Albertsons Companies, Target Corporation, and Hy-Vee and a growing network of experts to understand and address these issues. As a result of working with these companies for 10+ years, over 5,000 grocery stores nationwide now put seafood on their shelves that meet the demands of their ethically and environmentally conscious customers. Through our partnerships, FishWIse has worked with a network of more than 460 seafood suppliers in over 50 countries on environmental, social, and traceability issues.

Both traceability—the ability to track the movement of seafood through supply chains—and social responsibility are core to FishWise’s work and expertise. To drive progress within the seafood sector, FishWise offers two free, publicly available platforms, the Roadmap for Improving Seafood Ethics (RISE) and the Seafood Alliance for Legality and Traceability (SALT).

RISE helps companies to navigate human and labor rights challenges and create the conditions for decent work across seafood supply chains. RISE is built specifically for the seafood industry and addresses this industry’s unique challenges and opportunities. Through the RISE platform, companies may access credible, industry-specific tools, learning resources, and consultants and other experts to support the implementation of a robust social responsibility program. This approach, articulated in the Roadmap and Foundations, is aligned with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, supports companies in upholding core International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions, and builds towards the ILO Decent Work Agenda and United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 8.

FishWise leads the Seafood Alliance for Legality and Traceability (SALT), a global initiative for knowledge exchange and action to promote legal and sustainable fisheries through improved transparency in seafood supply chains. The project brings together the seafood industry, governments and nongovernmental organizations to accelerate learning and generate innovative solutions for legal and sustainable seafood, with a particular focus on traceability.

By the end of Year 4, the SALT community had grown to approximately 1,400 participants, a 30% increase from last year, including experts from 86 countries and nearly 700 organizations. A key achievement was the launch of the Comprehensive Traceability Principles and associated Pathway for seafood producing developing country governments. SALT's online platform has had nearly 15,000 unique visitors from 153 countries since the website’s launch.


Sustainable Fishery Advocates

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


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Sustainable Fishery Advocates

Board of directors
as of 02/22/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Dr. George Leonard

Ocean Conservancy

Term: 2019 -

Gideon Shaanan

UCSC School of Engineering’s Entrepreneurship Studies Initiative

Sofia Villas-Boas

University of California Berkeley

George Leonard

Ocean Conservancy

M. Eichenberg

San Francisco Baykeeper

Selina Heppell

Oregon State University

Debra Jones

The Nature Conservancy

David Kibrick

Chris Ratto

Kaiser Permanente

Richard Stavis

Stavis Seafoods

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 11/4/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.


No data

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity


Sexual orientation


No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 11/04/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Policies and processes
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.